The site occupies approximately 45 acres of land on the east end of Sanibel Island and was set aside for lighthouse purposes by an executive order dated December 19, 1883. Sanibel Island Light was the first lighthouse erected on Florida’s east coast north of Key West. It was first lit in 1885 and was automated in 1949.
In 1995, the Coast Guard issued an out-grant to the City of Sanibel, granting them use of the property for public recreation, as well as responsibility for preserving and maintaining the grounds and improvements, with the exception of the optic which the Coast Guard continues to maintain.
In October 2000, the Coast Guard determined the land to be excess to its needs and, since the land was reserved from the Public Domain, the Coast Guard relinquished it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the Department of the Interior responsible for management of Public Domain lands.
In 2004 the BLM accepted an application from the City of Sanibel to take custody of the Sanibel Island Light property, subject to the right of the Coast Guard to maintain the optic. However, before the transfer could take place an environmental clean-up was required, and it was completed last year. The transfer is moving forward, and the BLM anticipates the transfer will occur in the Fall 2008.
“We understand how important the Sanibel Island Light is to the local community and will do all we can to ensure the transfer of this regional icon in a timely manner,” says BLM Field Manager Bruce Dawson.
The Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) in St. Petersburg, Fla., continues to maintain the light’s optic, as it is still a functioning, high-priority aid to navigation in the area. The ANT regularly responds to discrepancies with the Sanibel Island Light, has provided tours of the lighthouse and has assisted the city in other areas associated with the light. The ANT is also looking to replace the storm pane windows that house the lantern atop the light.
“We would like to assure Sanibel Island residents, local mariners and lighthouse enthusiasts that we will continue to maintain the light,” said Capt. Joseph Servidio, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “The lighthouse has served for more than 120 years as a beacon for safe navigation, and the Coast Guard will continue to see that this piece of Florida history shines brightly.”
**Media Note: For questions please contact ANT Executive Officer, Petty Officer First Class Jose Sanjurjo, at 727-824-7648 or Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s Aids to Navigation Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Troy Dillman, at 727-502-1522.**