Staten Island Lighthouse Museum Makes Final Push to Open
ST. GEORGE — The National Lighthouse Museum is just $30,000 away from being able to open on Staten Island's waterfront next year.
The museum put out a plea this week to raise the money by Dec. 30 in order to lease the building that will host its education resource center.
"We're ready to go — we're just waiting for the final component of money for the deadline," said Linda Dianto, executive director of the museum. "Let's hope we can pull it off. I think we can — I think the public interest is there."
The organization needs the cash to finalize its lease for 5 Bay St., known as "Building 11" in the former base of operations for the Coast Guard's lighthouse services, from the city's Economic Development Corporation by January.
So far, the group has raised $320,000 for the lease, but it still needs another $30,000 in time for the Dec. 30 deadline, which the city has already extended, Dianto said.
"We need to move very quickly," she said. "The timeline is very tight at this point. We were hoping to get this sooner."
If successful, the museum plans to open the education resource center at the site on Aug. 7, 2014, the 225th anniversary of the Lighthouse Act of 1789, which gave the federal government control of the country's lighthouses.
The center, near the St. George Ferry Terminal, will have a timeline of lighthouse openings, a database of all the lighthouses in the world and a place where people can look up the history of lighthouse keepers, Dianto said.
"It will have a smattering, a little about everything about lighthouses, what they can do and what they've done," Dianto said.
The effort to open the museum started in 1997, after the city won a national contest to host it, and has long been delayed after the organization went through several directors and failed to raise enough cash.
But with several large projects poised to rise near the site — including the enormous Ferris wheel, called the New York Wheel — Dianto said the timing is perfect for the museum to open.
"This is the cultural anchor that will hold down the community for Staten Island," she said. "The wheel is great, the outlet is wonderful, but the museum is about the culture of Staten Island, the maritime history of Staten Island."