ST. GEORGE — After many delays and almost succumbing to a $25,000 budget shortfall, the National Lighthouse Museum has finally secured a building in Staten Island and plans to open its doors in August.
Linda Dianto, executive director of the museum, confirmed the organization has raised enough cash to make the museum a reality.
"It's all ready to go, it's just a matter of straightening out some of the administrative details," Dianto said. "It's time for celebrating."
The museum has recently faced several stumbling blocks that could have killed a deal with the city's Economic Development Corporation to finalize the lease for 5 Bay St., known as "Building 11" in the former base of operations for the Coast Guard's lighthouse services.
After successfully raising the money, the city told museum chiefs it still fell short of $25,000 which had been allocated to it by Assemblyman Matthew Titone, but had yet to reach its bank account, Dianto said.
However, after another fundraising campaign in January, the museum was able to raise an extra $50,000 and Dianto said she's finally in the planning stages for a soft-opening later this year.
"We are now in the process of proceeding with the architects and have them start working," she said.
The museum plans to open the first part of the site on Aug. 7, 2014 to mark the 225th anniversary of the Lighthouse Act of 1789, which gave the federal government control of the country's lighthouses.
It will have a timeline of lighthouses, a database of all lighthouses in the world and a place where people can research the history of keepers, Dianto said.
"It's just going to be amazing coming down the road," she said. "It's great that we're bringing the Staten Island community to the waterfront."
The borough was chosen to host the National Lighthouse Museum in 1997 after the city won a national contest, but the project was long delayed. It went through several directors and had trouble raising enough cash.
But after nearly 17 years, Dianto said she was excited to finally bring the history of lighthouses back to Staten Island.
"The history is important and Staten Island really is the heart of lighthouses," Dianto said. "I think we deserve it and it's worth fighting for. We have the history and it's worth preserving."