New use sought for Tibbetts quarters

Tibbets Point Lighthouse, pictured in August of 2018, no longer has a hostel service operating in its ancillary buildings. Watertown Daily Times

CAPE VINCENT — Town officials are seeking uses for the living quarters at the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse after the hostel service that used them to welcome travelers from around the world ended.

Hostelling International and the Town Council decided to discontinue the hostel service at the lighthouse keeper buildings in the spring, said Councilman Daniel A. Wiley, meaning visitors last stayed there in 2018.

Town Supervisor Edward P. Bender said Hostelling International could not attract enough visitors, and was losing more than $10,000 a year for several years. The town, which has maintained the quarters and other ancillary buildings around the lighthouse, also lost money, particularly because the town charged it $5-per-bed, Mr. Bender said. The decision to end the hostel service was mutual, he said.

Hostelling International, which oversees several youth hostel associations with hostels in more than 80 countries, could not be reached for comment.

“Overall, it was the right time and the right thing to do for the town,” Mr. Wiley said.

The Tibbetts Point Lighthouse hostel operation has housed explorers since 1984. Hostelling International had typically used the keeper’s quarters — built in 1907 — and original keeper’s quarters — built in 1827 — for its operation, offering at one time 26 beds in six bedrooms.

Mr. Wiley said the town has been trying to find other ways to use the building, seeking advice from the town’s attorney, Joseph W. Russell of Barclay Damon LLP, and state and federal historic resource officials. The town board installed new roofing in keeper’s quarters and original keeper’s quarters last fall, and it also wants to replace the windows, siding and doors. Mr. Bender said the board submitted an application for $75,000 in state grant funding for repairs.

“We want to do the best we can out there,” Mr. Bender said. “We can’t just throw money around. We just don’t have the money to do” the repairs.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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