Pictured Above: Lawmakers at the Aug. 16 ribbon cutting at the Montauk Point Lighthose. |. photo courtesy New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s office.

State lawmakers celebrated the reopening of the Montauk Point Lighthouse in an Aug. 16 ceremony, after a two-year-long, $44 million project to protect the site from erosion and renovate the historic lighthouse.

Over the past two years, H&L Contracting of Bay Shore performed the work contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, removing and reusing existing five and 10-ton armor stones, placing new 10 to 20-ton armor stones, and providing slope stabilization with terracing and vegetation above the upper crest of the 1,000-foot-long revetment. The project, which originally called for nearly 66,000 tons of boulders, ended up using 120,00 tons of boulders. The work on the revetment was completed early this summer.

“Extreme storms can have a devastating impact on so many communities and resources, especially here at the coastal Montauk Lighthouse complex,” said Governor Hochul. “New York State is proud to complete this project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement this critical shoreline resiliency project so that the beautifully renovated lighthouse buildings and grounds are protected and enjoyed for generations to come.”

The lighthouse stood 300 feet from the receding edge of the bluff when it was commissioned by George Washington in 1796. It stood just 100 feet from the receding edge of the bluff before the work began, with a deteriorating stonework revetment the only thing protecting the lighthouse from being lost to the ocean due to erosion.

The Montauk Point Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built in New York State and is a National Historic Landmark on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places. It was deeded to the Montauk Historical Society by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1996. It is adjacent to, but not a part of, Montauk State Park.

The Army Corps of Engineers entered into a $30.7 million contract with H&L Contracting in January of 2021, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation allocated $15.4 million in NY Works funding as the project’s non-federal sponsor.

“DEC is proud to partner with USACE to provide long-term protection for the Montauk Point Lighthouse from coastal erosion and future storm events,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Climate change remains a real challenge for coastal communities, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and resulting in more intense storm surge and coastal flooding.”

“CCOM, as the leading environmental organization in Montauk for the past 53 years, thanks Governor Hochul for drawing public attention to the urgent risk faced by our vulnerable shoreline in the face of climate change and sea level rise,” said Concerned Citizens for Montauk Chairman David Freudenthal. “CCOM is committed to working with our partners in government on responses to the imminent danger to our community. CCOM has been working with East Hampton Town and New York State since 2014 to develop a comprehensive long-term solution for Montauk’s coastline, including adoption in 2021 of the Coastal Assessment and Resiliency Plan. We look forward to the delivery later this year of the sand nourishment for Montauk’s downtown beaches as part of the Federal Fire Island to Montauk Point plan to offer medium-term coastal stabilization.”

New York State also provided an additional $435,000 in funding through the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. The local sponsor, the Montauk Historical Society, will maintain the site for continued use as a tourism attraction and educational center. The Historical Society has also been doing its own fundraising to support the restoration of the 796 lighthouse tower, 1860 keeper’s residence, and the newly refurbished Oceans Institute, a museum focusing on the health of the ocean. Among the new features is an interactive virtual aquarium that is filled with local sea creatures, from scallops to whales.

“This is seminal, multi-generational work and a wonderful example of a Public/Private Partnership that worked to preserve Long Island’s historic and iconic structure,” said Montauk Historical Society President Joseph Gaviola. A”s stewards of the oldest lighthouse in New York, a National Historic Landmark commissioned by George Washington, this is a dream come true.”

“The Montauk Lighthouse, where the sun first rises on New York State, is not only an iconic symbol for New York but is a cherished landmark in the Town of East Hampton, representing a part of our nautical history stemming back to the early days of our nation,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “Thanks to major federal and New York State funding, and the efforts of the Montauk Historical Society, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the contractors who completed this massive project of restoring the stone revetment that protects it, the lighthouse will be here for generations to come.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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