BARNEGAT LIGHT – Amid the restoration of historic Old Barney comes the promise of revitalized illumination from a brand-new beacon of light.
According to Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette, the State of New Jersey has committed $1.3 million in the restoration of external features of the Barnegat Lighthouse. The project will be capped off with a new beacon light and security fencing, courtesy of the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse.
State funding for restoration of the lighthouse comes from moneys collected from the Corporate Business Tax.
“When we invest in our public lands and invest in their good care and their improvement,” said LaTourette. “We’re really making an investment in one another, just as New Jerseyans in the past did in the development and building of the lighthouse in the first place.
“They did so no not knowing exactly who it would serve,” LaTourette continued. “But that in the future, some mariner might be in need of the shining light through the darkness.”
According to authorities, the existing beacon was hit by a couple of lightning strikes and damaged. Although electricians have been able to get it to work, it seemed to be a better alternative to replace it. Once the old beacon is removed, it will be stored and used for parts.
The replacement beacon was ordered for sale through Amsterdam, and will match the intensity and rotation of the existing signal light. The circular timing of the light is unique to Old Barney and will continue.
Construction work done on the exterior of the building is currently focused on masonry and repainting the structure. New windows and repairs to the lantern steel platforms are all part of the uplift necessitated by decay.
“The original builders of the lighthouse understood that the masonry on the lighthouse has to breathe, and let the moisture inside, get out,” shared Robert W. Russell of HMR Architects. “Because of that, it has an inner wall and an outer wall.”
Russell said this portion of the project also involves removing the paint so it can breathe again. A silicone coating will replace the existing paint and should have a longer life. The colors will remain the same as part of Old Barney’s historic identification.
“It will breathe better, and not produce as much mildew,” Russell explained. “It should be washable in the future without removal of the paint.”
The most expensive portion of the project is the scaffolding erected around the structure, with a price point of just over $400,000. The investment supports the concept that it would be more cost effective in the future to wash the structure than to paint it.
The last time the Barnegat Lighthouse underwent restoration was nine years ago. The hope is that the new materials will delay the need for future renovations for at least another 12-15 years.
LaTourette acknowledged that New Jersey is ground zero for some of the worst impacts of climate change, with rising sea levels among them. The state estimates two feet of sea level rise by 2050, and five by 2100.
The state’s climate resilient strategy plan includes a coastal resilience plan in making determinations about how to make things safe. While there is no long-term resilience plan specifically for the Barnegat Lighthouse, it exists within the state’s broader coastal resilience plan.
Visitors hoping to get back inside Old Barney may only have to wait a few more months. If all goes as planned, the work at the Barnegat Lighthouse will finish in October.