Public comment open for project to repair the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, surrounding landscape

Published 7:12 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is preparing a plan for a project to repair the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and surrounding landscape. The public can assist the Seashore in identifying issues, concerns and opportunities to be considered as part of an environmental assessment.

The public comment period is 30 days, which began Sept. 17 and ends Oct. 17, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time.

It is stated the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse repair project is necessary due to deteriorated interior and exterior elements of the lighthouse in need of repair or replacement. There are also missing character-defining features and additional modern treatments that have diminished the integrity of the lighthouse. Heavy visitation to the site, combined with limited formal pedestrian walkways has resulted in patches of bare soil and an unclear circulation route along which to visit the site.

“The objective of this project is to rehabilitate and restore interior and exterior elements of the National Historic Landmark lighthouse and its character-defining features,” states the public scoping newsletter, found at parkplanning.nps.gov/caha_lighthouse and listed as CAHA-Lighthouse EA Public Scoping Letter_508Compliant.pdf.

That newsletter lists three preliminary alternatives.

Alternative A: No Action

A necessary alternative in an Environmental Assessment. No changes would be made to the Lighthouse, site circulation and landscape. Existing light would remain and historic Fresnel lens would remain at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras village.

Common Elements

The two action alternatives have these common elements:

– Restoring and rehabilitating the Lighthouse and Oil House to remove non-historic features and replace historic elements, including repairing, repointing or repainting damaged masonry; repairing or replacing marble floor tile; removing corroding metal and refabricating metalwork; removing degraded paint and repainting; restoring missing doors and window pediments; removing the shade canopy on the Oil House, and stabilizing and restoring the Oil House.

– Adding replica stockade fencing around the Keepers’ Quarters to mimic the landscape of the early historical period, defined as 1879-1936, and restore historical integrity.

– Adding interpretive elements like educational displays describing the lighthouse move and resources in the project area.

Alternative B: Improvements to Landscape and Lighthouse Lens

In addition to the common elements, the following would be added to the landscape: new pedestrian paths that connect site features and plantings and landscape restoration towards a more natural landscape.

For the lens, this alternative calls for producing and installing a replica of the historic lens, with inserted reproduced prisms and installing a new light source within the replica structure; and continuing preservation of the original Fresnel lens by the seashore as a museum object.

Alternative C: Comprehensive Improvements

Common elements plus comprehensive circulation improvements define this alternative. Key elements include:

– creating a new pedestrian circulation loop to connect site features and circulate visitors throughout the site from a new northern path.

– adding a shade pavilion, positioned outside the primary landscape for waiting lighthouse climbing groups.

– sculpting gently raised berms to restore the natural landscape.

For the lens, this alternative suggests partially or completely restoring the original Fresnel lens, with recovered prisms or using prisms plus reproduced prisms, and installing a new modern light source.

As part of the public comment period, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is hosting two meetings: one in-person meeting (RSVPs required, see details below) and one virtual meeting.

Meeting 1 in person is set for Sept. 28 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 48576 NC 12, Buxton.

COVID-19 mitigations will be implemented.

In-person attendance is limited to the first 50 persons. Seating available on first-come, first-served basis. RSVP to secure seating by sending an email to caha_public_affairs@nps.gov. In the email, provide first name, last name and how many guests will attend.

Masks must be worn inside the building. Seating will be six feet apart.

Meeting 2 virtual is set for Sept. 29 from 6 to 7 p.m.

– Webinar link: https://bit.ly/cape-hatteras-light-station-virtual-meeting

– Anyone experiencing issues using the link above should go to https://zoom.us/join and enter Meeting ID: 850 3201 0917 and Participant ID: 743130

– Those who prefer to call in to the meeting should dial 301-715-8592 and use 850 3201 0917 as the Meeting ID.

Comments are to be submitted electronically at parkplanning.nps.gov/caha_lighthouse, in person at the Sept. 28 meeting via comment card or mailed to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, ATTN: Superintendent, 1401 National Park Dr., Manteo, N.C. 27954.

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