New Jersey’s historical lighthouses at risk of going dark (PHOTOS)
New Jersey lighthouses are struggling to maintain their status as neat places to visit along the shore. Funds from the state have dwindled down to nothing in recent years.
Steve Murray, chairman of the Friends of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Foundation in North Wildwood, says a big part of the battle is maintenance of these towering structures that are constantly battered by the elements.
"You get a big tower lighthouse like Cape May or Absecon, it is probably well over $100,000 to paint a building like that."
Murray says up until recently most of the funding has come from two main sources: the New Jersey Historic Trust and the state Department of Transportation. But those funds have run dry, Murray says, "and it does not look like they are going to be funded any time soon.
"It is a very, very difficult times, not just for lighthouses, but for all historic structures in the state."
Executive Director Jeff Gales of the U.S. Lighthouse Society says he advises those fighting to preserve lighthouses to "go local."
"It is really important to have an organized group of people that are interested in preserving the lighthouse, and thinking of the property as a museum and something that needs to generate income to survive and support itself."
Gales says there's very little money out there for lighthouse preservation. So he advises these local groups to create specific budgets and line items for those projects and try to go and get donations and work from local people.
"That is really going to be the best way for people to support their properties," Gales said.
He says every lighthouse is different as far as expenses go, "and when these groups are formed, one of the key factors in their success is not just opening the property to the public, but actually creating income streams."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at Joe.Cutter@townsquaremedia.com