Project Will Restore Saugerties Lighthouse's Storm-Damaged Footing, Piers and Adjacent Infrastructure; Safeguard a Cherished Landmark
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of work to reconstruct and reinforce the historic Saugerties Lighthouse's foundation and adjacent infrastructure which were damaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and further threatened by Superstorm Sandy's high water. The Lighthouse was first established in 1835 and the current structure, which still operates as a navigational beacon, was built in 1869, making it the oldest surviving lighthouse residence on the Hudson River. The construction began August 13th and will be complete in early fall.
"Building back stronger and smarter is the only way forward for our flood-prone communities," Governor Cuomo said. "The New York Rising Community Reconstruction process was created in part to protect beloved and valuable resources such as the Saugerties Lighthouse, and we will continue to empower our residents as they work to rebuild their communities more resilient than ever before."
From the start, the New York Rising Community Reconstruction process was based on two immutable realities: first, that increasingly violent and unpredictable weather patterns are becoming the norm and second, that members of the communities in the path of these weather systems know where their needs lie and can best recommend the projects that will protect their towns and villages and way of life."
The project to restore and overhaul Saugerties Lighthouse was identified by members of the Ulster County New York Rising Community Construction Planning Committee as a priority. The $478,000 project, funded by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, will restore and overhaul Saugerties Lighthouse's existing bulkheads, seawalls, piers and adjacent infrastructure. This project is one of hundreds moving forward in conjunction with the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo established the GOSR New York Rising Community Reconstruction program to empower residents and business owners in the recovery and resiliency process.
Laurice Salamack, GOSR Regional Director, said, "Anyone who travels the Hudson has seen the iconic Lighthouse. Through Governor Cuomo's locally directed New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, GOSR is able to provide the funding to the Village of Saugerties to protect this historic property and preserve it as a beacon for the future."
The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided an additional $175,000 for repair of the bulkhead through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grant Program for Historic Properties from the National Park Service. The grant program supports historically significant properties that require restoration and repair in the wake of severe damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The Saugerties Lighthouse is a defining feature of the Hudson River Valley. It is gratifying to see the work moving forward to help ensure this historic site can be enjoyed by future generations."
Constructed in 1869, Saugerties Lighthouse is Hudson River's oldest surviving lighthouse and has withstood repeated storms, but Tropical Storm Lee's and Hurricane Irene's flooding and a 12-foot storm surge damaged the lighthouse's 150-year-old bulkheads and piers, sending waves as high as the historic site's front doors. During those storms, a dike that protects the harbor channel failed, exposing the lighthouse's original stone foundation.
Crews will repair a large gap in the dike and make bulkhead, pier, and dock repairs in and around the Lighthouse. While the dike is important for preventing silting of the harbor channel, the bulkhead and pier protect the lighthouse, which is a community asset and historic building. The lighthouse serves a local recreation asset as well as a tourist attraction where people can picnic, hike, swim and fish, with rooms available to rent for overnight stays.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, "The Saugerties Lighthouse is an iconic landmark and navigational beacon that has stood the test of time and weathered many storms. But until Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy, the lighthouse had not experienced such an onslaught. Thanks to the wisdom of the community, which prioritized these essential repairs, and Governor Cuomo's Office of Storm Recovery which is providing financing and essential guidance, the Village of Saugerties will retain its most symbolic piece of history, navigators will be able to rely on its light to travel the river safely and the State will be able to point to the fact that building back smarter and more resiliently is the way to a stronger future for all New Yorkers."
Mayor of the Village of Saugerties William E. Murphy said, "The Governor's Office of Storm Recovery is making a real and lasting difference to the Parks in the Village of Saugerties. From the work at Village Beach to the rehabilitation at the Lighthouse, these important historic, recreational assets are being protected for generations to come. My thanks to the Governor and all the folks we are working with on the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program to make our community more resilient."
Supervisor of the Town of Saugerties, Fred Costello, said, "We are grateful to NY Rising for helping protect the Town of Saugerties' resources and infrastructure from climate change. We are especially grateful to the state for their efforts to protect and preserve the Saugerties Lighthouse, an important town and village resource and symbol of our community, for future generations."
Patrick Landewe of the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, said, "The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, in partnership with the Village of Saugerties, is honored to receive this much needed assistance from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery and the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. We are excited to repair this cherished historic landmark, an effort that will coincide with the building's 150th year in 2019. The Saugerties Lighthouse survives through the passion and dedication of a community of supporters, and a firm footing is vital to ensure that this part of New York's maritime heritage can be shared with generations to come."
Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy all struck the Ulster County NY Rising Communities with full force. The storms hit the Town and Village of Saugerties, which are both riverine and coastal municipalities, particularly hard. The lower Esopus and its tributaries including the Plattekill, Sawyer Kill, and other streams flow through the Town and Village into the Hudson River, which forms the municipalities' eastern boundary. The Saugerties Lighthouse revitalization is one of three NY Rising Community Redevelopment projects in the Village of Saugerties.
In 2017, the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery funded a $347,000 restoration of Saugerties Village Beach, which sustained damaged from all three storms. Crews added over a ton of sand to replenish the depleted beach, while docks and a boat run were rebuilt to accommodate watercraft activity. To protect these developments, improved drainage systems and a stone top layer were installed along the eastern and western shorelines. A third GOSR Community Reconstruction initiative, in partnership with the nonprofit cultural resource organization, Arm of the Sea, involves a more than $363,800 project to stabilize the shoreline along the Tina Chorvas Park. Planned enhancements, to begin construction in September, include new bulkheading and improved drainage, protecting the park against future storms. Along with the revitalization of Saugerties Lighthouse, these projects demonstrate the state's comprehensive strategy to build back more resiliently and thoughtfully, and to create lasting, sustainable infrastructure and public amenities that will serve their communities for years to come.
Altogether, more than 650 New Yorkers served on 66 New York Rising Community Reconstruction planning committees across the State, and have together proposed hundreds of projects inspired by the unique needs and assets of their regions. Collectively, NYRCR committees have held 650 planning meetings and 250 large-scale public engagement events as they have worked to rebuild more sustainable communities, reinforce infrastructure, mitigate the risks of loss and damage associated with future disasters, and spur revitalization.
Established in June 2013, GOSR coordinates Statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program — as well as its NY Rising Housing Recovery, Small Business, Infrastructure and Rebuild By Design programs — GOSR invests $4.5 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding to better prepare New York for extreme weather events. More information about GOSR and its programs is available online at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/.