Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Petoskey Lighthouse
. . . .

The Petoskey Lighthouse

Noah Fowle - April 26th, 2010
Resurrecting the Petoskey Lighthouse
By Noah Fowle
Blown away by a storm in 1924, Petoskey’s last lighthouse was later
replaced with a more utilitarian designed directional light. Yet a local
effort is growing to find a place for a replica structure somewhere along
the city’s Little Traverse Bay coastline.  
Last summer, the long-awaited repairs to Petoskey’s breakwater were
finally fin-ished when the Army Corps of Engineers received additional
funding from the federal government as part of the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act. In order to complete the work, the Petoskey Pier Light
was removed from its station at the end of the break-wall. Seeing the
blank pier inspired a pair of local lighthouse enthusiasts,
Gordon Bourland along with his wife, Carolyn, to begin floating the idea
of bringing back a version of the 40-foot lighthouse to the breakwater
that was first erected there in 1912.
“We are lighthouse fanatics,” Bourland explained. “We’ve traveled all over
Michigan and the United States to
visit lighthouses. There seems to be something that draws people to them.”
Following the successful collaboration between Emmet County and the Great
Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association to restore McGulpin Point Lighthouse
along the Straits of Mackinac last year, the Bourlands contacted
Dick Moehl, the president of the Mackinaw City based association, to see
if a similar effort could be undertaken in Petoskey. 
Although Petoskey’s pagoda-style light-house was relatively
short-lived, Moehl said the hexagonal structure was a popular one around
Lake Michigan, with four others built along the Wisconsin coast. However,
none of them remain today.  
Terry Pepper, the executive director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers
Association, said the unusual design of the lighthouse, along with the
lighthouse community’s enduring affection for the structures would be more
than enough to draw people to the area.
“There are untold thousands of people who have an affinity for lighthouses
of all types,” he said. “They go around the country photographing any
lighthouse they can find, even faux lighthouses, or replicas. I believe
people will come to Petoskey to photograph such a unique design, it’s
intrinsically enjoyable.”

GROWING SUPPORT
Before the Moehl and the rest of his staff took complete control of the
project, the Bourlands presented the idea to the Little Traverse
Historical Society and the Emmet County Historical Society. Both groups
may not have been able to pledge any financial support, but they did
approve of the ultimate goal. Today, there is a general agreement
throughout Petoskey that a replica structure would be a positive addition
to the area.
Allen Hansen, Petoskey’s director of parks and recreation, met
with Moehl and Pepper earlier this month and scheduled a public discussion
on the issue during the parks and recreation regularly scheduled monthly
meeting on Monday, May 10. Despite the city’s inability to afford paying
for the project, Hansen said his department could handle the
responsibility of maintaining the structure if it is placed in one of the
city’s parks. He added that his department is enthusiastic about the
project and that the lighthouse was mentioned in the department’s most
recent master plan, completed in 2008.
“We want to see how the community feels about this,” he said. “This is
something out of our past and it would help people understand our maritime
heritage.”
Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carlin Smith was also at
the preliminary meeting and said he thought the project would be a victory
for residents, tourists and businesses alike. 
“One thing a community needs is focal points, things that are great
symbols of the town,” Smith said. “The clock tower is a nice one, and a
lighthouse replica would be another.”
Moehl said he understands the city’s position and hopes to find a suitable
location for the structure.
“We’re looking for approval and support,” he said.  “We’re not looking for
any funding, but we’ll take any we can get.”

FINANCIAL OBSTACLES
Supporters of the project were dismayed to learn in December that the
United States Coast Guard would not consent to placing any sort of replica
over the existing pier light, which functions as an official aid to
navigation. The original intent may have been to see a lighthouse replica
installed in the same place as the original, but the
Coast Guard’s decision carried at least one silver lining - the estimated
cost of the project dropped significantly once the need to fasten it to
the breakwater was eliminated. 
Pepper said the latest figure supplied by Moran Iron Works, which
completed significant restoration work on the McGulpin Point Lighthouse,
hovered around $200,000. Still, Pepper said that figure could not be
considered exact because it is based on the current price of steel and
pointed out it would be responsible to raise as much as $300,000 to ensure
the project is completed.
“If the city will agree to this and select a location, perhaps all they
would need to do is create a base and install electricity to put some sort
of light there,” he said. “We would raise funds to purchase materials and
have it brought to Petoskey. The only question is how much responsibility
down the road the city would want to take on upkeep. Our goal is to set up
an account that the cost of maintenance could be withdrawn from. It would
be a win-win, the city gets something and lighthouse lovers get
something.”
Although the economic climate may not be the brightest for an undertaking
of this kind, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association has a track
record of success with similar projects including work at
the McGulpin Point Lighthouse, the St. Helena Island Lighthouse and
the Cheboygan River Front Range Light. 
“Given the current state of things, I would have said this would be pretty
tough,” Smith said. “But I looked into the eyes of Dick Moehl and he seems
to have the wherewithal and the motivation to do it. Plus, the people that
really value the history of the area will get behind this. It’s worth
pursuing.”

RESTORING AN ERA
While the McGulpin Point Lighthouse, which sits on a tract of land that is
the oldest deeded piece of property in Emmet County, has a more storied
history than its Petoskey counterpart, Jim Tamlyn, chairman of the Emmet
County Board of Commissioners, agreed the replica effort is a worthy one.
“It would be a wonderful addition to bring that era back,” he said.
Tamlyn said attention swelled with the McGulpin Point Lighthouse and the
restoration project still garners donations of 1890s style furniture to
help outfit the lighthouse as historically accurate as possible. Although
Emmet County pays for the maintenance of the McGulpin Point Lighthouse and
it is staffed by paid guides, Tamlyn pointed out that in its first summer
the landmark was already drawing people to the area, who donated about
$9,000 to help with its upkeep.
“By the fall we were getting people who were coming to the lighthouse as a
destination from other states,”  he said. “That is economically
significant when they start spending a day or two in the area. Adding a
lighthouse in Petoskey would be just one more reason to visit the area.”
  
Bourland added that in order to make the effort a complete success, an
educational component must accompany any structural replica.
“It would need a plaque explaining it and literature that says this was
something that was there and tells the whole story,” he said. “If you have
a replica and it’s in place where you can see the existing light and the
bay, it would make a great tourist destination. There would be people who
make a little bypass in their travels just to see it.”


 
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