01.14.16

SCHUMER: NORTH HEMPSTEAD’S CENTURY OLD ‘STEPPING STONES LIGHTHOUSE’ CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE, THREATENING ITS FUTURE AS A HISTORIC MARITIME STRUCTURE IN THE LONG ISLAND SOUND; URGES NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TO PROVIDE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR REMEDIATION EFFORTS THAT WILL HELP RESTORE LIGHTHOUSE

Long Island’s ‘Stepping Stones Lighthouse’ Dates Back to 1877 & Was Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005; Over the Years, the Historic Lighthouse Has Tragically Fallen Into Disrepair & Needs to be Rehabilitated

Schumer Urges NPS Director Jarvis to Provide $165K in Federal Funding to Halt Future Deterioration of the Lighthouse & Ready the Structure for Full Rehabilitation; There Will Be Local Matching Funds

Town of North Hempstead & The Great Neck Part District Have Already Taken Emergency Measures to Prevent Decay—Additional Funding is Needed to Move Forward With Construction

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the National Park Service (NPS) to provide $165,000 in federal funding to help rehabilitate the Town of North Hempstead’s historic Stepping Stones Lighthouse, which has fallen into disrepair. The lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1877 and remains an aid to navigation today, in addition to the important educational purposes of the structure. Schumer explained that NPS should provide federal funding so that the Town of North Hempstead can make critical repairs to halt future deterioration of the lighthouse, ready the structure for rehabilitation and launch an educational campaign; the Town of North Hempstead will match the funding with $165,000 in local support and donations and an enthusiastic fundraising campaign has already raised contributions towards this effort.

“There’s no doubt about it, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse is a keeper whose future is on the rocks unless the feds step in and make this historic site a national priority,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “That’s why I am pushing the National Parks Service to provide federal funding to preserve and protect the Stepping Stones Lighthouse—so it can be rehabilitated and remain a landmark structure on Long Island. A repaired and updated lighthouse will benefit the maritime community, the Town of North Hempstead and Long Island as a whole, and it will help educate the public about our region’s maritime history and preserve the stories of those who helped shape this community.”

“We are very appreciative of Senator Schumer’s support for the repair and restoration of our own Stepping Stones Lighthouse. While the Town has completed the replacement of the crow’s nest portal door and other small repairs over the past year, this funding from the National Parks Service would allow us to address some of the major structural projects that need to be done. We are fully committed to restoring this local piece of Maritime history and we are very hopeful that with Senator Schumer’s attention to this issue that our grant application will be accepted,” said Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Bosworth.

In 2008, the Town of North Hempstead 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. Over the years, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse has deteriorated.  According to the Town of North Hempstead, foundation blocks at the riprap 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 crumbled 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. The Town of North Hempstead applied last year for the National Park Service Grant and has also been looking at a variety of other funding sources to help assist with the lighthouse’s refurbishing. Schumer today said that the Stepping Stones Lighthouse should be restored because of its importance to Long Island’s maritime history.

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. The Lighthouse is one of the last in the upper Mid-Atlantic region to be built of brick and stone, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of nineteenth century lighthouse design.  The light marks a major hazard in western Long Island Sound and warns ships and boats of extensive shoals and a series of rocks (the legendary Devil’s Stepping Stones).  The light station remains in its original location and, despite the deterioration that threatens the structural integrity of the lighthouse, the character and appearance are essentially unchanged from its period of significance.

Schumer today urged NPS to provide $165,000 in federal funding through the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program to enable the Town of North Hempstead to undertake its Stepping Stones Lighthouse-First Steps to Rehabilitation Project. Schumer explained that the Town of North Hempstead and Great Neck Park District have already taken some emergency measures to prevent further decay of the Lighthouse, however, funding is needed to halt the deterioration and prepare for the next stages of full rehabilitation. According to the Town of North Hempstead, before any significant work can be done on the lighthouse, a temporary floating dock, ramp, boneyard and construction staging area must be constructed for safe access. Weather protection, shoring, and bracing must be put in place to prevent further bulging and leaking of the tower’s west wall. Remediation and general cleanup of the crumbling structure is also required before the more involved masonry, metals, and woodwork can be done to fully rehabilitate the building. These items, which are the general conditions for stabilizing the lighthouse and readying it for full repair, total $328,500. An additional $1,500 is sought for an educational campaign reaching broad audiences to generate awareness and engage the community in the rehabilitation of the lighthouse. Overall, the project total is $330,000. Restoration will take place in partnership with the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Historical Society.

A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:

Jonathan B. Jarvis

Director

National Park Service

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240 

Dear Director Jarvis:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the Town of North Hempstead requesting $165,000 in funding through the National Park Service’s National Maritime Heritage Grant Program.  Such funding will enable North Hempstead to undertake its Stepping Stones Lighthouse – First Steps to Rehabilitation Project.

Built in Second Empire-style brick in 1877 and modernized in 1944, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse guards the approach to New York City’s East River and 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.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Lighthouse is one of the last in the upper Mid-Atlantic region to be built of brick and stone, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of nineteenth century lighthouse design.  The light marks a major hazard in western Long Island Sound and warns ships and boats of extensive shoals and a series of rocks (the legendary Devil’s Stepping Stones).  The light station remains in its original location and, despite the deterioration that threatens the structural integrity of the lighthouse, the character and appearance are essentially unchanged from its period of significance.

With funding, North Hempstead will make critical repairs to halt further deterioration of the lighthouse, ready the structure for full rehabilitation, and launch an educational campaign.  Restoration of the Lighthouse will take place in partnership with the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Historical Society.  While the Town and Great Neck Park District have already taken some emergency measures to prevent further decay, funding is needed to halt deterioration and prepare for the next stages of full rehabilitation.  Remediation and general cleanup of the crumbling structure is also required before more involved masonry, metals, and woodwork can be done to fully rehabilitate the building.  The Town of North Hempstead is seeking $165,000 for this project and is working to secure matching funds from the community through donations, in-kind services, and Town support, and has already met with an enthusiastic response and many contributions.  Restoring the lighthouse to good repair will benefit visitors from across the region and nation, educate the public about our county’s maritime history, preserve the stories of the people who shaped it, and increase appreciation for the role of lighthouses in ensuring safe navigation of the nation’s coasts.  I applaud the Town of North Hempstead and its partners for their foresight, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration.  For additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Director in my Washington office.       

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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