Have you ever started a home remodeling project, only to discover partway through that there's more work than you anticipated needing to be done? That's the case at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where unforeseen repairs will keep the Bodie Island Light dark for an indefinite period.
The lighthouse had been undergoing an extensive restoration when the contractor came upon something unexpected: "...significant structural integrity issues associated with the support structures under the balcony."
Last month seashore Superintendent Mike Murray announced that the "restoration project is ending for 2011 due to lack of funding to complete the project. The contractor will begin demobilization of the interior and exterior scaffolding the week of March 7, 2011 and must be completed by April 7, 2011."
Seashore officials estimate that the additional work necessary to ensure the integrity of the "framing, lantern beam supports, masonry and stitching, and steel drum and belt course segments located at the top of the lighthouse" could cost in the neighborhood of $1.6 million.
Whether that money will be provided in the Park Service's Fiscal Year 2012 budget remains to be seen, in no small part due to cuts in the agency's funding.
In the meantime, "the Bodie Island Visitor Center and Eastern National bookstore, located on the grounds at the base of the lighthouse, are open year round, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adjacent and north of the lighthouse, the nature trail boardwalk is open year round for wildlife viewing," according to seashore officials.
As for the lighthouse's Fresnel lens, it has been cleaned and refurbished by the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, according to seashore spokeswoman Cyndy Holda.
“It is stored and locked under key in our musuem because it is an extremely valuable piece of historic property," she said.