One of Lake Erie's top tourist attractions at Put-in-Bay will get $7.6 million of economic stimulus funds for much-needed repairs.
Perry's Victory and International Peace Monument will use the money to fix the observation deck at the monument and renovate the old elevator that hauls Put-in-Bay tourists up to the deck, said Blanca Alvarez-Stransky, superintendent of the facility.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, had worked to obtain funding for the repairs. Another $18.5 million of repairs also is needed, Kaptur said.
Separately, Kaptur also announced additional federal dollars from the economic recovery bill will pay for a new commercial-grade research vessel for the U.S. Geological Service that will be based in Sandusky.
The final cost for the ship has not been determined, but it will likely be $2 million or more, a spokeswoman said.
In 2006, a 500-pound piece of granite fell from the observation deck, creating a 24-inch hole in the upper plaza, Alvarez-Stransky said.
Although the observation deck was stabilized, making it safe for tourists to continue to use it, the incident made the need for repairs obvious, she said.
Perry's Monument will stay open until Aug. 1 this year, then close for repairs.
The money also will pay for work on the 1936 Otis elevator, which needs to be modernized to comply with safety codes, Alvarez-Stransky said.
The economic stimulus bill does not refer to Perry's Monument.
But Kaptur used her position on the House Appropriations Committee to include money in the stimulus bill for park construction, and she had lobbied the director of the National Park Service to consider the Perry work.
"We have been fighting the fight within the Department of the Interior to repair the most important federal memorial on Lake Erie," Kaptur told the Register in a phone interview Wednesday.
Kaptur told officials of the area's high unemployment rate, making it an appropriate place to spend funds for a "shovel ready" construction project.
"We tried to point out the Put-in-Bay tourist trade is a major business on Lake Erie. This is a major draw," Kaptur said.
About 200,000 people visit the Perry Monument at Put-in-Bay every year, Alvarez-Stransky said.
Kaptur, discussing the new ship, said the U.S. Department of the Interior will spend money from the stimulus bill for two new 60-to-65-foot research vessels -- one on Lake Erie, the other on Lake Ontario.
The new ships will replace the Sandusky-based research vessel Musky II, built in 1960, and a similar ship on Lake Ontario. Both are used to gather information for fisheries management.
Put-in-Bay is a popular vacation spot just 2 miles offshore of mainland Northwest Ohio in Lake Erie. While "Put-in-Bay" is technically the name of the village on South Bass Island, the name commonly is inadvertently used to refer to the entire island. A summer resort since the mid-1800's, the village can be considered the hub of tourism among the Lake Erie Islands, with its numerous taverns, wineries, restaurants, waterfront condos, rental homes, and hotels.