For all the enthusiastic people who have generously donated to the restoration of Stepping Stones Lighthouse, it is good to know that progress is afoot, both symbolically and literally.
On Sunday, Oct. 22, the private-public partners to save the lighthouse are hosting a family-friendly 5K race/walk that will begin at Steppingstone Park and wend its way through one of the Gold Coast’s most historic and beautiful villages, Kings Point.
“It is an event not to be missed,” said Charles Schneider, the event chairman. “We hired Event Power of Long Island, a professional outfit that knows how to organize these kinds of events so that they’re fun and safe. We’ll provide water, bananas, bagels, oranges and T-shirts thanks to our terrific sponsors.”
Schneider said that after the awards ceremony, a DJ will be on hand to add to the festivities. Among the raffle prizes are two seats at the finish line of the prestigious Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018.
“We are making sure that there is plenty of accessible parking in and around Steppingstone Park and will also have vans running for the friends and families who want to be at the finish line to cheer for all the contestants,” said Robert Lincoln, lighthouse restoration chairman. “We want to make it easy to be part of this great day and are working closely with the Kings Point Police Department and Nassau County Police to make it convenient for everyone.”
Meanwhile, strides have been made to ensure that there is an accurate understanding of the lighthouse’s needs and priorities.
“All the partners, the Town of North Hempstead, the historical society, the Great Neck Park District and the City Island Nautical Museum want to make sure that the money we raise is spent wisely and well,” said Great Neck Historical Society President Alice Kasten.
Modern Ruins, an architectural firm specializing in the restoration of historic buildings including six lighthouses, reported after an in-depth field investigation that the Stepping Stones Lighthouse is “fundamentally a solid and durable structure…and is eminently restorable.” CEO Walter Sedovic said that in his estimation, the fluctuation in temperature at the light is the most critical undermining factor and must be addressed in order to protect it from future deterioration.
The light once had a power cable, but when the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light and it was switched to solar power to support the illumination of the beam, the cable was disconnected.
The Town of North Hempstead, utilizing funds from a federal grant, has had divers exploring the foundation of the lighthouse to determine if it is sound enough to proceed with work safely and prudently. They have also searched for the cable. Reports are expected soon.
Modern Ruins has outlined a work plan for the next three years to address the specific tasks to be completed along with estimated costs.
The most dire problems that could jeopardize the lighthouse are a dislodged foundation stone beneath the tower which creates a 4-square-foot opening; a severe crack through the foundation and concrete deck; issues of ice jacking, when water penetrates and then freezes at the base; dislodged brick masonry; boarded windows that block light and ventilation; gutters that are improperly sized and become clogged with debris that leads to further deterioration; and no heat, which is described as the major “culprit” to the deterioration.
Though the list of problems sounds ominous, the report states that the lighthouse is restorable, since the recently repaired roof is excellent and durable, the wood framing is stable and the interior stairs are solid. The evaluation states that the very fact that the structure has survived after years of neglect is a “testament” to its underlying strength.
Organizers of Sunday’s 5K are grateful to the sponsors whose support will make this event possible: Elona and Richard Weiner; Edna Mashaal Realty; GN Chamber of Commerce; Marienbad; Rotary Club of GN; Tiaming Perlman Realtor; The Andrew Hotel; Bagel Mentsch; FCE Group; Great Neck Diner; Great Neck News; Harras, Archer and Bloom, LLP; Inn at GN; Jack Blaha; Lalazarian Developers; Nemat Homes; Norman Collision; North Shore Prosthodontic Associates; Nuclear Cleaners; Saltlife Marine Services; Systematic Control; and Vigilant Fire Department.
To register for the race, visit www.eventpowerli.com. Although runners and walkers are encouraged to sign up in advance, participants can register on Sunday morning, beginning at 7 a.m. The race/walk will start at 9 a.m.