2006-10-26 / News

Lighthouse five-year plans presented

By Sam Bari

Beavertail Lighthouse Acquisition Committee Chairman Varoujan Karentz presented the plans for Phase I and II of the lighthouse restoration at the semiannual Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee meeting last week. Funded by a National Trust Grant, the study included preliminary drawings of the proposed project that will take place when the U.S. Coast Guard releases the property sometime in the next five years, Karentz said.

The plans, drawn by Newport Collaborative Architects, included an expanded museum with four exhibit rooms and a mini-theater designed to accommodate 10 to 12 people for film and slideshow presentations. The oil house would also be used as an exhibit area. The quarters for the lighthouse keeper will be moved to the second floor according to the plans. The museum entrance will be moved behind the lighthouse tower, and the entire area will be turned into a bricked courtyard. But the footprint of the lighthouse and buildings will not be changed.

Phase II of the project involves the construction of an interpretive center on another part of the property. Newport Collaborative Architects are working with Abcore Restoration Company of Narragansett to provide cost estimates for the restoration and preservation of each building, Karentz said.

Abcore has been working since late 2005 on a Beavertail Lighthouse preservation project that is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. The needed repairs and restoration included renewing the double hung windows in both keepers' cottages and the tower, and installing wooden Marvin storm windows. "Discussions are being held with Abcore concerning further work because the tower is still badly in need of repair," Karentz said. "Broken steel in the steps and railings, corrosion, and water getting into the tower are all problems that need to be addressed. Arnold Robinson from Newport Collaborative and Abcore are working together to pursue grant money for the projects," he added.

Committee Chairman Gary Galkin brought up the subject of possible restroom facilities for the park in the near future. Larry Mouradjian, chief of the state Department of Environmental Management Parks and Recreation, said that although the park was at the top of the list for funding, the reality of funds being available in the near future was dismal. "Funding has been cut back, and many projects that we hoped would be under way by now have been put on hold," he said.

DEM Director of Planning and Development Bob Sutton said they are looking at the possibility of pre-fabricated restroom facilities for all the state parks that are in need. "Although the research for prefab units is not specific to Beavertail, there is progress," he said.

Mouradjian concluded the matter by saying that restroom facilities were definitely in the fiveyear plan.

Committee member Hazel Turley inquired about the tick warning signs that were promised during the last committee meeting. She said that she did not see any new signs posted. Regional Park Manager of Goddard State Park Robert Paquette responded by saying that "we (parks department) don't have any signs and have to fabricate our own."

Mouradjian agreed that it was an important issue and said that signs would be fabricated and posted in the appropriate places.

DEM Parks and Recreation Maintenance Director Brian Gallagher said that complaints had been made of visitors not complying with the park speed limits. He suggested speed bumps and signs. It was mentioned that bicycle riders would object to the speed bumps. Mouradjian said there were four speed limit signs in the park and there should be a sign leaving every parking lot. He said he would look into the matter.

Paquette reported that the improvements to the aquarium were well received and that everything in the museum and aquarium was in good working order. He was also pleased to report that staffing was adequate and consistent.

Karentz said that the deteriorating foundation of the lighthouse tower had been inspected, but the problem had not yet been resolved.

President of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association George Warner inquired about the new hunting regulations in the park. According to Mouradjian, the park will never be closed. "The rules and scheduling will be established and posted by the Jamestown Police Department," he said.

While covering old business issues, Galkin asked Mouradjian if the traffic stops by DEM and other law enforcement after hours had been resolved, referring to an inquiry concerning one case by committee member Frank Meyer at the previous two meetings of the committee.

"Beavertail State Park conforms to the program of all state park rules, which states that all parks are closed from sundown to sunup. First offenders are given warnings, chronic offenders are issued summonses. Frank's (Meyer) case was not an aggressive action," he said. "I am tired of Frank's constant attacking, allegations, and accusations that have no basis," Mouradjian added. Galkin said that he was glad the matter was finally put to rest.

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