Parks department has budgeted $75,000 for lighthouse renovation

The Hannibal Parks Department fully realizes the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse is in need of attention. What it doesn't know is just how much work it needs to have done. That question will soon be answered by MECO Engineering, which was hired earlier this month to conduct a study of the structure's condition.

“They'll do a complete analysis of the lighthouse to give me an idea of how bad it actually is,” said Andy Dorian, director of the parks department during the October meeting of the park board. “There's been a lot of back and forth with the engineers on this project. More so than most.”

In a memo to the city council written earlier this month, Dorian acknowledged the lighthouse “is in need of significant renovations including roof and structural repairs due to age and dilapidating wood.”

To perform a preliminary structural investigation of the lighthouse MECO will be paid a sum not to exceed $5,000. Once the results of the MECO report are in Dorian's hands the parks director expects that he and the park board will be able to begin making some definite decisions regarding the project's direction.

“We're going to see how bad it really is and then I'll talk to you guys and get some opinions,” he said.

According to Dorian, the parks department's 2017-18 budget contains a $75,000 placeholder for this project. Whether that amount is more than enough or not enough will be determined in part by who does the work.

“I have not decided whether I'm going to contract it out or we're going to do it in-house,” he said. “If it's major structural or foundation issues, we'll probably have to bid it out. If it's more the wood is rotten, between my department and the street department, we think we can tackle some of that stuff in-house.”

The 54-foot tall lighthouse has stood atop Cardiff Hill since 1963 after strong winds toppled its predecessor in 1960. It's been over 20 years since the last major renovation of the lighthouse took place.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com