FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2019
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Construction of Dock at Stepping Stones Lighthouse Begins
Once dock is built allowing safe access to structure, then renovation work can begin
North Hempstead, NY – While it cannot be called a “ground breaking” work has begun on the construction of a dock at the Stepping Stones Lighthouse in the middle of Long Island Sound.
“This dock will be a game changer for restoration of the Stepping Stones Lighthouse,” said Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “We are all very excited to see this first step being taken. Following the construction of the dock we will be able to more easily access the lighthouse to begin further restoration of this historic structure.”
Part of the Town’s Five-Year Capital Plan, the dock is being built by marine engineers Atlantic Coast Dock Construction Corp and supervised by the Town’s Department of Public Works. The estimated completion date is the end of the year. The total cost of the dock project is $606,000. The project is a joint venture between the Town, the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Historical Society, which has focused its fundraising efforts on the lighthouse for the past five years.
“The installation of the dock is an important milestone for the future of the lighthouse,” said Robert Lincoln, Commissioner of the Great Neck Park District. “Only when workers can efficiently transport materials onto the structure can we do the basic stabilization and repairs which are critical and need to begin right away. Monies we have already raised are available to help fund the design for the essential next steps.”
In 2008, the Town of North Hempstead had acquired the lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard with the goal of restoring and using the property as an educational site for future generations. When Supervisor Bosworth came into office in 2014, the Town formed a partnership with the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Historical Society to restore and preserve the lighthouse.
Over the years, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse has deteriorated. Foundation blocks at the base have shifted outward, and there is a crack in the basement floor wide enough to drop a fishing line through that leads to open water. In addition, bricks have fallen from the crumbling chimney and debris from birds and shells litters the floor. Much of the pointing between the granite blocks is missing, endangering the granite foundation of the building. The brick and the granite around the northern top side of the tower are bowing outward, creating an instability of the floor in the lantern room and water intrusion in the deteriorating gutters is destroying the roof edge and fascia, rapidly causing serious damage to the structure.
Stepping Stones Lighthouse was built in Second Empire-style brick in 1877 and was later modernized in 1944; the structure remains a vital aid to navigation today. The brick house and tower are constructed on a granite pier that rests on the outer edge of a rocky reef at the western end of Long Island Sound, at the mouth of the East River. Stepping Stones Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 for its association with the rise of the Port of New York in the late nineteenth century to become one of the world’s most important centers for maritime commerce.