Gibbs Hill Lighthouse to be refurbished
The Ministry of Government Estates has earmarked $500,000 to refurbish Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.
Work is scheduled to begin next month for the specialised contract but operations will be staggered to accommodate the businesses that operate out of the Southampton facility.
The announcement yesterday by Minister Michael Scott comes in the wake of criticism on the rusted state of the building.
“Many of us would be aware of the very public discussion going on about the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and its state of disrepair. The Ministry committed to a budget to ensure that this major building was placed on our list of upgrades,” said Mr Scott.
The work schedule
“We determined after the assessment of this work that has to be carried out that sandblasting, scaffolding of the entire building and the placing of sheeting around the lighthouse was going to necessitate the closure of the premises as a matter of safety of patrons of the [gift shop and restaurant] there.
“This has largely driven the reason for the delay up until now because we all appreciate that businesses attracting cruise ship visitors to this site has been ongoing and running at pace throughout the summer months during the peak of our tourist season.
“Be that as it may I regret that there has been this ongoing state of disrepair of the lighthouse but at the same time we had to balance the needs of the businesses in repairing the building.”
The work entails painting the exterior of the lighthouse, sand blasting all metal surfaces and installing a new 48in high guardrail on the observation deck.
“Existing washroom facilities will be modernised and expanded and washrooms t hat are accessible to the physically challenged will be added.
“The main cottage at the lighthouse and ancillary storage buildings on the site will be upgraded and renovated also,” said Mr Scott.
Following an “exhaustive assessment” two companies specialising in the type of work required have been shortlisted for the contract.
“To that end, we have sought quotations from painters and construction companies with expertise and experience in painting and repairing tall steel structures,” said the Minister.
“I deeply regret that the renovation and rehabilitation work at the lighthouse has not commenced as yet.
“However, I am able to confirm that the job of painting the lighthouse has now been tendered and the selection process has been concluded.
“The businesses there are not only pleased that we are going to begin next month, but they are also pleased that we’re going to work in such a way to ensure that the work can be staged and staggered in such a way that the businesses clientele will not be adversely affected right up until December.
“This will allow some of the important engagements with the restaurant to take place. I do want to emphasise that the businesses have been great partners with the Government in ensuring that we commence at the earliest possible time to get the job done.”
Closing to Public during refurbishment
He continued: “There is general recognition that in order to complete the required scope of work efficiently, cost-effectively and safely, including the erection of scaffolding and sandblasting, the lighthouse and its grounds will have to be closed to the public.
“I am obliged to make the point here that the tendering process and the closure of the lighthouse grounds in order to carry out the works at a time that is convenient to the concessionaires at the lighthouse have contributed significantly to the delayed beginning of the renovation project.
“In these circumstances, I am pleased to advise that the work at the lighthouse will commence next month. I am satisfied that the work to be carried out will see the lighthouse’s speedy return to a condition of excellence about which we all can feel proud.
Most stunning views
“There can be no doubt that Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, with some of the most stunning views in the world, remains one of the Island’s premier tourist attractions.
“The Government therefore agrees that every effort must be taken to improve the facility both aesthetically and from a safety and health perspective.”