2009-10-29 / News

Restoration, funding concerns discussed at Beavertail advisory meeting

By Iain Wilson

The Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee held a swift meeting last week at the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum. During the semi-annual meeting, the committee reviewed events of the past summer, touched on some older issues and addressed a handful of new ones, including a restroom upgrade for the park and the increasing number of out-of-state fishermen using Beavertail as a spot to cast.

While old and new issues shuffle through the agenda of the advisory committee, the restoration of Beavertail Lighthouse remains a constant. The museum itself is in need of new electrical outlets, a security system and new windows, but BMLA Acquisition Chairman Varoujan Karentz was excited about something happening on the outside of the paint-chipped windows. Karentz voiced his enthusiasm about separate projects at the lighthouse, including the restoration of the original foundation and the transformation of the site’s twocar garage and generator shed.

The original foundation, built in 1749 by renowned architect Peter Harrison, sits on the southeast corner of the island and, as the committee pointed out, has lately been the subject of debilitating erosion.

“The biggest problem, as you can see, is that the southwest corner [of the structure] has been eaten away to about a depth of three feet into the old foundation,” Karentz said.

A mixture of concrete added after the 1938 hurricane scars the side of the foundation, and the BLMA hopes to remove most of it and replace it with something resembling the original lime mortar.

“We want to go down into the bedrock with steel posts and use that as a holding point to build around,” Karentz said.

In other business, Karentz said he is in discussions with radio providers interested in using the old generator shed as a broadcast point, relying on the antenna that used to serve as the radio direction finder for the lighthouse. Work to the garage is a definite, he added, but a few years away.

He acknowledged that funding remains the primary hurdle facing the restoration process. With the museum and aquarium limited to two months of full-time operations in July and August, the committee will be forced to look elsewhere for support. The Jamestown Town Council recently voted to give $15,000 to the BMLA, and pledged another $10,000 for next year.

“The support of the community is what keeps it going,” Karentz said.

The Beavertail Lighthouse is the island’s most-visited tourist attraction, bringing moneywielding tourists to the island for day trips. Karentz said that many tourists who visit the lighthouse ask for dining recommendations and when they do, he never hesitates to give them.

The advisory committee also announced that several Clivus Multrum composting toilets are planned to replace the port-ajohns that currently serve visitors. Each toilet holds a price tag of $52,000, but will be permanent and will rarely require pumping.

The next meeting of the Beavertail Advisory Committee will be held on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

Return to top