Year-long wait for Lighthouse renovations nearly over

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

It’s been more than a year since scaffolding first went up around the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse for what was supposed to be a 2-month long project to repaint the exterior and replace the balcony railing.

But not long after the scaffolding went up, two months turned into four, then six, then more as delay after delay kept workers from completing the renovation.

“It just took a really long time and it’s frustrating to us. It’s very frustrating. Very, very frustrating,” said Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema recently. “And this is not the first time this has happened, by the way. The last time they worked on the Lighthouse, 10 or 15 years ago, the same thing happened,” he said.

The Lighthouse, the Keeper’s Cottage and the land they sit on is owned by the State of Texas and managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The City of Port Isabel has an agreement to operate both historical facilities. Under that agreement, the City can keep any revenues generated from tourists who pay to climb to the top of the Lighthouse’s spiral staircase, or to see the nearby cottage.

After approximately 13 months without tourists, however, the City has lost an estimated $50,000 in revenue, Hockema said.

But it wasn’t just the City of Port Isabel that felt the pinch. The merchants whose businesses occupy Lighthouse Square have suffered, as well.

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