Lighthouse resurrection group kicks off fundraising
By Tara Nelson
Blaine City Council unanimously approved a resolution to appoint Blaine resident and building designer Brad O’Neill and the newly-formed Semiahmoo Lighthouse Resurrection Society as the official entity by which to raise funds to build a replica of the original Semiahmoo Lighthouse on Marine Drive.
In their meeting Monday, O’Neill announced the kickoff of a fundraising campaign and goal to garner all funds necessary from the private sector.
“It’s important to me that the society is viewed as a vehicle in which the lighthouse will be built,” he said. “This lighthouse is meant to be for everyone. It’s the citizens’ lighthouse; it’s the lighthouse for the city of Blaine. We are not looking for any tax-generated revenue to help our efforts.”
The Semiahmoo Lighthouse is a reproduction of the original lighthouse that once stood on a platform in Semiahmoo Bay between 1905 to 1944 and is slated for the end of Marine Drive near the west end of the planned Lighthouse Point water reclamation facility.
O’Neill said that although the plans call for a copy of the original structure, the expense and difficulty of obtaining permits to build in the water were prohibitive. As a result, he aims to build the lighthouse on land although it will be as close to the high water mark as possible and surrounded with pilings to give the appearance of being in the water, he said.
“We want to make it look as waterborne as we can,” he said. “But we’re going down the road that’s easiest, legally speaking.”
In the meantime, O’Neill said he is working to create architectural plans using microfilm copies of the original drawings from the National Archives and Records administration in Washington, D.C.
The drawings will be created pro bono by his architectural design business, The O’Neill Group.
“It’s important we create the lighthouse as an exact replica,” he said. “We don’t want to create a Disneyland image of what Blaine was. I want it to be a real piece of history as well as something that will be an attraction for the city, something that may even bring people off the freeway.”
In response to council member Harry Robinson’s question of whether there were any commercial plans for inside the lighthouse, O’Neill said it would be up to the city. Once the lighthouse is constructed, he will sell the completed structure to the city for $1.
“I’m having a lot of fun saying I have no idea,” he said. “It will be up to the city to decide.”
Council member Liebert said he was enthusiastic about the project and was certain it could be completed.
“I have no doubt it will succeed,” Liebert said. “It’s amazing what this community can do once they reach a consensus.”
O’Neill said the board currently has three members and that over the next few months, they will be looking for four additional members who are going to make an “absolute commitment to making the lighthouse a reality.”
O’Neill said the group should have an informational web page operational in about a week at www.semiahmoolighthouse.com.