Florida

The Coast Guard is giving away historic Florida Keys lighthouses. But there’s a catch

More than 350 swimmers compete in open-water Florida Keys swim

Over 350 national and international participants competed in the Florida Keys Saturday during the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse, an eight-mile open-water challenge.
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Over 350 national and international participants competed in the Florida Keys Saturday during the Swim for Alligator Lighthouse, an eight-mile open-water challenge.

Ever wanted your very own lighthouse — a real one out in the open water, not the Lego kind? The U.S. Coast Guard has a deal for you.

And they are free.

Four Florida designated historic lighthouses have been “determined to be excess to the needs of the U.S. Coast Guard” so the government agency is giving them away at no cost in accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

Where they are

The light stations, all in Florida Keys waters, are:

Alligator Reef Light Station, situated four miles offshore of Islamorada. This one was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 1, 201..

The American Shoal Light Station, six miles offshore of Sugarloaf Key. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Jan. 25, 2011.

Carysfort Reef Light Station, six miles offshore of Key Largo. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 31, 1984.

The Sombrero Key Light Station, seven miles offshore of Marathon. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 9, 2012. This is the lighthouse 24 Cuban migrants perched on in an effort to stay in the United States in 2016.

The catch

There is, of course, a catch. You’re not going to be hosting your next wild Stiltsville-styled boat party at any of them over the Fourth of July weekend.

The lighthouses are being offered to eligible entities the preservation act defines as federal agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations. The act was designed to ensure historic lighthouses like these are to be used for educational, park, recreational, cultural or historic preservation purposes.

Commercial activities would be prohibited unless approved by the Secretary of the Interior. The lighthouses are also being offers “as is” and “where is” so don’t expect to have them polished up and moved to your Gables Estates waterfront back yard.

So this all apply to you?

Here’s what you need to do

Act fast. You need to submit a letter of interest no later than Monday, April 15. Details about the four lighthouses, their specs, locations, and the addresses to which you must send your letters — and the details they need to include — are available on the General Services Administration’s Real Property Utilization and Disposal government agency’s website at https://disposal.gsa.gov/s/.

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.

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