Decision delayed on West Point lighthouse transfer

A federal-level argument over who ended up with a surplus lighthouse in North Carolina has delayed the decision about the fate of the lighthouse in Discovery Park.

The problem was, a maritime group already using the North Carolina lighthouse got the nod from the Department of the Interior to stay, but county officials in the southern state appealed that decision, said Gary Munsterman from the National Park Service's regional headquarters in California.

The decision was reviewed at the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Park Service, and the federal agency ultimately sided with the maritime group, Munsterman said. "But that [appeal] procedure wasn't all that well defined."

Because of that, the feds are working on tightening the administrative-review process so that "unsuccessful parties have an opportunity for redress," he said.

Last spring, Seattle Parks and Recreation was among 21 organizations and individuals that applied to the National Park Service to take over the West Point Light Station after the United States Coast Guard surplused the 121-year-old complex.

That number had been winnowed down to seven applicants this fall, with Seattle Parks and Recreation still being one of them, and the western regional director of the National Park Service made a recommendation on which one should get the lighthouse on Nov. 10, Munsterman said. He declined to say who was recommended.

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton is responsible for making the decision, and a decision normally would be issued within 30 days of a recommendation, Munsterman said, sounding doubtful that would happen. "I'm not going to hold my breath" is how he put it.

Seattle Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said the city agency is in a waiting mode while the feds sort things out. "We're respectful of their proc-ess," she said.

Reach staff reporter Russ Zabel at 461-1309 or

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