The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 26, 2009

Lighthouse owner has bright ideas for beacon

Gary Zaremba envisions tours and future overnight stays

CONNEAUT — The Conneaut Harbor lighthouse soon will be shining its bright beam on a new era of local tourism, its owner said Friday.

Gary Zaremba, 51, of New York City, believes the 60-foot light could attract a wide range of visitors to Conneaut and enhance tourism efforts already under way.

“It can be part of a broader scheme of waterfront development,” he said in a telephone interview. “I would just be part of what’s going on already.”

Zaremba, president of Artisan Restoration Group, a restoration contracting firm, submitted a $35,000 bid for the beacon during an online auction launched by the U.S. General Services Administration last fall. The offer was accepted, and the title transfer is just “a couple of weeks” from completion, he said.

“The paperwork is being signed by all the parties,” he said.

Zaremba, who learned of Conneaut’s lighthouse via the Internet, visited his purchase a few weeks ago. Unable to secure a boat, he waded into the harbor to reach the west breakwater wall that leads to the light nearly a mile offshore.

Zaremba was impressed with the structure, erected in 1905.

“It’s structurally sound,” he said. “We just need to make it user-friendly.”

It’s also not his first lighthouse. Two years ago, Zaremba purchased a light in Lubec, Maine.

An admitted beacon buff, Zaremba also sees the opportunity to preserve a piece of local heritage while hopefully making a few dollars.

It’s a fun, interesting opportunity,” he said. “They don’t come along every day.”

He envisions guided tours of the Conneaut light, with passengers ferried from the public dock to the light. School trips and group excursions could be booked.

Down the road, the light may be outfitted to accommodate guests for overnight stays.

“It would be for those who like adventure travel,” Zaremba said. “The views are amazing.”

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