By Danny Schrafel
Long-term fundraising efforts have brought the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society to a critical moment in the 105-year-old beacon’s history.
After raising the $250,000 needed to match a state grant, the society put out to bids a contract for a project to repair the lighthouse’s foundation and install approximately 650 tons of pure-granite rip rap boulders to protect the foundation for decades to come.
“It’s really exciting, and it’s terrifying all at the same time. I’m just praying everything goes smoothly. Then you can ask me how I feel,” Pamela Setchell, president of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, said Monday. “Sometimes I pinch myself and think, ‘Did we really pull this off?’ It’s been years and years of hard work.
All proposals are due by Friday, Setchell said, and six prospective contractors have picked up bid packages. In a perfect world, she added, work would begin in mid-September, shortly after the annual Lighthouse Music Fest and just after tours of the lighthouse conclude for the season.
“We don’t know how fast somebody can mobilize to do this,” she said, adding it’s unclear how long the project will take.
The foundation and rip-rap repairs are part of a larger $1.5 million capital campaign to repair the lighthouse. The list of physical repairs to be carried out includes restoration of a fog bell and mechanism ($125,000), restoration of the cupola ($100,000), window and casing replacement ($20,000), roof replacement ($30,000) and desalination system ($15,000). They would also dedicate $150,000 to a 24-person water taxi, $250,000 for an operating reserve for program staff, $250,000 for a permanent maintenance endowment and $60,000 to cover campaign expenses. In addition to the campaign, they’re also looking to fund a $1 million restricted preservation endowment.
Fundraising recently accelerated thanks to efforts spearheaded by former New York State Parks Commissioner and entrepreneur Bernadette Castro, a Lloyd Harbor resident. Her $80,000 Beacon Society campaign is around halfway complete, Setchell said.
The Beacon Society is seeking 20 team leaders, who each pledge to raise $2,000. Those team captains are then paired with four team members, each tasked with raising $500. That means each team will deliver at least $4,000 when their fundraising goals are met.
Team captains can bring in their own mates, or be paired with individual donors who support the effort as uncommitted team members. The effort will conclude with a cocktail party for supporters pledging $500 or more at the Castro family’s historic Panfield estate in Lloyd Harbor. Setchell said they’re currently on the hunt for $500 team members.