Cost to bring historic lighthouse lens to Marathon now pegged at $170,000

rmccarthy@keynoter.comJuly 16, 2014 

The city of Marathon has been exploring the idea of incorporating this historic Fresnel lens once used at Sombrero Key Lighthouse into its planned new city hall. The city's design team estimates it would cost about $170,000 to do so.


It would cost the city of Marathon roughly $170,000 to obtain and transport a lens from a historic lighthouse for display at what will be the new City Hall, and to redesign the lobby for display purposes.

That's according to Solaria Design & Consulting Co. President Steve Grasley, who was given the go-ahead by the City Council in June to investigate the true cost of moving the Fresnel lens that used to sit atop the Sombrero Key Lighthouse about six miles offshore.

The U.S. Coast Guard owns the lens, which is on display at the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum.

The 156-foot-tall Sombrero lighthouse was built in 1857 and 1858 and first lighted on March 17, 1858, according to the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation. It was automated in 1960 and the lens, made in France, was removed in 1983.

Vice Mayor Chris Bull has been pushing for the return of the lens to Marathon and have it serve as a centerpiece in the lobby area of the new city hall, which will be built on the site of the current city hall between 98th and 99th streets along U.S. 1.

According to Grasley, design requirements ($14,850), construction requirements ($73,000) and transportation, installation and replacement ($82,000) would add up to $169,850 to incorporate the lens into city hall.

Solaria is part of Marathon's city-hall design team that is headed up by Key West architect William Horn and includes Key West-based K2M Design.

In addition, Grasley's report estimates it would cost the city $3,063 per year to maintain and insure the lens.

The bulk of the construction requirements Grasley worked up are $40,000 for "shell revisions" to the city hall lobby space and $20,000 for security partitioning.

The transportation, installation and replacement costs do include providing the Sand Key lens, in storage near Washington, D.C., as a replacement for the Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum to display.

City Manager Mike Puto said a discussion about the costs has not been scheduled for the July 22 council meeting.

"I don't have it on the agenda. There's a lot of stuff that I don't have answers to yet," he said, referring to design considerations and confirmation the Lighthouse Museum is willing to part with the lens.

Grasley's letter to the council says the design team is "at a point that requires we know how to proceed for the lens."

"If it will be included we must know by the next council meeting or the impacts to design costs will be higher than illustrated," he wrote.

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