For those who wish to see the Stepping Stones Lighthouse saved, Pam Setchell is a beacon of hope.
Setchell is poised to raise the money needed to restore the 136-year-old lighthouse off the coast of Kings Point, which has fallen into disrepair over the years.
“It would be a horrific shame to lose that lighthouse, it’s one of the most important and oldest lighthouses in the Long Island Sound,” Setchell said.
She has created a non-profit group Northeast Lighthouse Preservation Group and is now accepting donations through the group, as well as the Great Neck Historical Society, in anticipation of officially taking ownership of the lighthouse in the near future.
The U.S General Services Administration and the National Parks Service revoked the ownership of the lighthouse from the Town of North Hempstead last fall after the town failed to do any work on the lighthouse in the fours years it owned it.
The GSA then approached Setchell, who has over 20 years of restoration experience at the Huntington Lighthouse.
Setchell said she didn’t want to be involved unless she had a lot of enthusiasm and support from the community.
“I wasn’t in the market for another lighthouse, but I was stunned by the outpouring of interest,” she said.
Alice Kasten, president of the Great Neck Historical Society, said, “I’m thrilled something is going to happen, it’s one of my life ambitions to kayak out there. We’re hoping we can mobilize the community.”
Great Neck Park District Commissioner Robert Lincoln said that he has heard interest from fire departments all over the Northeast and is planning on speaking to yacht clubs in the area and the City Island Nautical Museum.
Setchell said that the project could cost up to $4 million and take up to 10 years to complete.
“It’s a little overwhelming there’s so much to do,” she said.
According to Setchell, the first order of business is fixing a hole in the roof of the lighthouse to stop any further damage. There is also a hole in the basement in the foundation and all the windows need to be replaced.
“As soon as we have the keys we need to put in a pier because there is a lot of debris that needs to be taken out and a lot of transportation going in and out,” Setchell said.
She said that the early stages of the project would consist of a lot of cleaning and just trying to gather donations and grants.
“We’re looking for people in different areas to donate services or make a partial donation so that the project is on its way. If they want to put in the windows, they can name the windows,” Setchell said. “It’d be wonderful if we had donations just to forge forward. You’ve got to start somewhere.”