Lighthouse Needs Big Donations

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The Great Neck Historical Society’s Bob Lincoln (left) and its President, Alice Kasten, admire Kennedy School student projects about the Stepping Stones Lighthouse

Frustrated by the difficulty in attracting major donations in its quest to save and restore the Stepping Stones Lighthouse, the Great Neck Historical Society’s Lighthouse Restoration Committee met last week to discuss its next steps.

“We need a business plan,” chairman Bob Lincoln told the committee members.

“Once we have some sort of plan of action, with specific targets, then we can go out and say…‘Here’s what’s happening this year and here’s what we’re looking to do next year,’” he explained. “Our immediate action right now is to put that package together so we can invite people (to donate) who have serious money, but we have to have that serious package to sell.”

“We need a list of targets,” he added. “It will give us targets to raise money for each one of those tasks.”

Lincoln, who is also a Great Neck Park District commissioner, was instrumental in having the district repair a hole in the lighthouse roof last fall.

He used the need to place a dock by the structure to provide easy access as an example.

“We have to stop talking about ‘we need a dock’ and start talking about what it’s going to be and where it’s going be,” he said. “I’m not an engineer. What do you have to do first? You’ve got to make the building weather tight and make sure the foundation is solid.”

The Town of North Hempstead, which has stewardship of the lighthouse, has selected a contractor to replace a door on the structure. The town is paying $4,000 for the heavy door that leads to where the lantern is housed and it’s scheduled to be done next week. The Coast Guard suggested the repair.

North Hempstead has actually allocated $20,000 in its budget
this year for the lighthouse. “It’s $20,000 for 2015,” Lincoln explained. “We need to push and lobby for
more for 2016.”

In the fall, the town estimated that it would cost $4 million to completely restore the lighthouse.

The committee’s current bank balance is just over $15,000. Funds have been raised through the sale of promotional items and private donations. The committee will be at the City Island Arts and Crafts Fair on June 6 and June 7 and at Port Washington’s Harborfest on the June 7 to continue its promotional efforts.

Also at the meeting was Town Grants Coordinator Tom Devaney, whose recent application for a lighthouse grant ($165,000) from the National Park Service was unsuccessful. Only 12 of the 66 nationwide applicants in the highly competitive process were funded.

Devaney said that not only would he continue to search for grant money but that he would again apply for the Park Service’s National Maritime Heritage Program funding.

While continuing the meeting’s focus on the need for formulating a construction plan and securing large donations, Lincoln included a salute to the students and staff at the Kennedy School.

Referring to his attendance at a Kennedy assembly held the night before, Lincoln said, “We were presented with a check from the students for $800. That’s from the kids in kindergarten through fifth grade who were bringing in their pennies, dimes and quarters, and they tell me they have more.

Several committee members
made suggestions for possible funding sources, both private and public. One suggestion was to contact a well-known Long Island Sound advocate, entertainer Billy Joel,
for help.

Another suggestion was to seek the assistance of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Steve Israel, who have previously been able to secure funds for the preservation and protection of Long Island Sound.

Stepping Stones Lighthouse was built in 1876 to warn mariners of shoal and extensive rocks that extend into Long Island Sound northward from Kings Point.

Contributions can be made and more information obtained by going to www.greatneckhistorical.org.

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