$1 million for Stepping Stones Lighthouse through 2018 capital plan

$1 million for Stepping Stones Lighthouse through 2018 capital plan
Stepping Stones Lighthouse, as seen from Steppingstone Park, where a race to raise awareness and money for its repairs started and ended. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Stepping Stones Lighthouse is expected to get more than $1 million for improvements, according to the recently approved 2018 Town of North Hempstead capital plan, through a combination of bond money and grants.

The bulk of the money – $625,000 – comes in fiscal 2018. Some $300,000 will then be invested in fiscal 2019, followed by $50,000 for the next three fiscal years for annual maintenance. $666,407 will come through bonds, while $365,000 is expected in the form of three grants.

Those three grants are a $165,000 National Park Service grant to the Town of North Hempstead, a $100,000 state Assembly grant and a $100,000 grant to the Great Neck Park District.

The project aims to complete the design and construction of a dock at Stepping Stones Lighthouse to ensure safe access to the facility. The dock is also a necessity to bringing construction materials ashore so fundamental repairs to the lighthouse can be made.

“It is gratifying to know that the town is dedicated to preserving the lighthouse,” Alice Kasten, the president of the Great Neck Historical Society, said on Friday.

This is a considerable upgrade from the $520,000 outlined in its 2017–2021 capital plan. Originally, the town planned to spend $70,000 in fiscal 2017, $300,000 in fiscal 2018 and then $50,000 for the next three fiscal years.

North Hempstead became the steward of the deteriorating lighthouse in 2008 to stop its demolition. They are partnered with the Great Neck Historical Society and Great Neck Park District to try restoring the lighthouse.

A preliminary report from Modern Ruins, an architectural firm specializing in historic building restoration, found that long periods without a heating system led to freezing and a crack from underwater up through the lighthouse.

It also notes a dislodged stone at the lighthouse’s foundation and the “buttoning up” of the lighthouse, which has blocked light from entering and encouraged birds to nest inside.

But, report authors previously said, the lighthouse is stable overall and can be saved as long as the issues are handled relatively soon.

Officials have previously estimated that restoring the beleaguered could cost over $4 million.

Stepping Stones Lighthouse, built in 1877, technically does not need to be restored to serve as a beacon to marines. But lighthouse advocates have previously said replacing it with a metal beam would sacrifice its historical and educational value.

In unrelated lighthouse business, Kasten said the historical society plans on hosting another 5K run for the lighthouse in 2018 and hosting an opening reception for a lighthouse gallery in the Great Neck Library on Jan. 8, 2018.

That gallery has been open since Dec. 14, 2017.

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