Unforeseen Repairs Will Idle Bodie Island Lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Indefinitely

Unexpected repairs, and a lack of dollars to address them, is forcing Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials to keep the Bodie Island Lighthouse out of operation. The lighthouse's rare Fresnel Lens, seen from the inside in the bottom photo, has been cleaned and refurbished and is in storage until the light is back in action. NPS photos.

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.

Comments

My comments to Ms. Holda were in response to her NPS announcement
that the restoration of the Bodie Island Lighthouse was stopped due to
lack of funding......the scaffold was being removed ....and the final
restoration MAY be funded in 2012.

The facts are:

  • There was additional damage (unforeseen) found during the current project that would require and additional $1.6MM to complete.
  • There was a surplus of $1.1MM remaining from the renovation of NPS admin office etal in Manteo.
  • Transfer of the surplus money to the Lighthouse project required US Congress approval.
  • An additional $500,000 was needed to complete the project.
  • The completion of the project as quoted by Ms. Holda will now be doubled at $2.6MM.
The unknown is whether an attempt was made to have Congress allow the transfer of the monies or not!!

Another member emailed me and provided these comments:

  • No one has mentioned the LOST USER FEES to climb the Bodie Island Lighthouse which is reality.
  • The USER FEES to climb the Cape Hatteras and Currituck Lighthouse generate $1MM+ annually.
  • Can you imagine how many people that stay in the Nags Head - KDH will pay to climb Bodie Island...?
  • Can you imagine the lost revenue that would have repaid any loan or emergency funding by NPS to complete the project now?
  • What is the logic of this decision? Where are the leaders of NPS? What are they thinking?

The bigger issue is if NPS cannot fund
this project when a majority of the money is available on paper.....how
will any of the FEIS required changes be funded? DUH! They won't be and management of CHNSRA will be done with Lock, Key, Birdcage and Fees.

I'm off to Cape Hatteras soon on my last leg of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. I was looking forward to climbing all the lighthouses. That's the only elevation that I'm going to get on this trip.
What a disappointment.
Danny Bernstein
www.hikertohiker.com

Danny try calling around and get a flyover of the park. Nothing like it. The Government cannot close the air above.

I have been vacationing to the Outer Banks for my entire life and have stayed in Nags Head for over 20 years. I remember when there was no fence around the lighthouse and you could go touch it! I used to try to climb the lighthouse on it's side when I was still a kid ahh the memories! I went to the Lighthouse recently and saw the Lighthouse without the scafholding. It looks so depresing. It's all rusty and dark and needs a new coat of paint. Their is more to that thou. When I look at it I see failire after failiure to restore it. For years I dreamed of climbing the Lighthouse and for awhile I thought I would... Untill they lost their funds. I wish congress, the govornor of NC and even the President could see what the budget cuts and lack of care to national landmarks like this one has done to this lighthouse. It has been abused and ignored, it has been forgotten...

I have been vacationing to the Outer Banks for my entire life and have stayed in Nags Head for over 20 years. I remember when there was no fence around the lighthouse and you could go touch it! I used to try to climb the lighthouse on it's side when I was still a kid ah the memories! I went to the Lighthouse recently and saw the Lighthouse without the scafholding. It looks so depresing. It's all rusty and dark and needs a new coat of paint. Their is more to that thou. When I look at it I see failire after failiure to restore it. For years I dreamed of climbing the Lighthouse and for awhile I thought I would... Untill they lost their funds. I wish congress, the govornor of NC and even the President could see what the budget cuts and lack of care to national landmarks like this one has done to this lighthouse. It has been abused and ignored, it has been forgotten...

Seems strange that with all the structural problems NPS has seen fit to leave the top gallery OPEN to the weather since hurricane Irene Aug.27,2011.I guess they don't understand that "rust never sleeps" here on the Outer Banks.Just typical of how this Park operates.

April 2013 the Bodie Island Lighthouse is open to the public to climb. Renovations have been completed.