By Connie Leinbach
The National Park Service has been appropriated $2 million to renovate the Ocracoke Light Station complex.
Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Parks of Eastern North Carolina, said the money was included in a recently passed Congressional bill called the Disaster Supplement for 2022.
“I am so excited about this because when we were doing the planning, I knew we were going to come up with a good plan to adapt the buildings,” he said. “What I didn’t know is how we were going to get the money.”
An environmental assessment also gave thumbs up.
Rehabilitating the station buildings is necessary because these structures were damaged from recent storms and if left as they are it is expected they will be damaged further by future storms, climate change and sea level rise.
Now that the renovation can proceed, Hallac said he hopes to hire a design contractor in September and, if all goes well, to award a construction contract by the end of 2023.
Next year is important for the lighthouse as that will be its 200th anniversary. He is looking to form an Ocracoke committee to help plan anniversary events.
But before then, Hallac got the go-ahead to renovate all of the buildings, including the lighthouse.
The NPS selected and approved the preferred alternative, which allows for the elevating of the double keepers’ quarters by four feet, and raising the carpenter’s shop, store house, privy and generator house by up to two feet.
The lighthouse itself and oil house will not be elevated, but all buildings and structures will also be repaired and repainted.
In addition to removing the shotcrete from the exterior of the lighthouse and replacing it with a coating that will allow appropriate protection of the masonry and moisture control, damaged masonry inside and out will be repaired.
Possibly, the interior metal staircase will be replaced with a wooden spiral staircase to match original material and orientation.
The year-long planning process is necessary because of all of the details involved in buildings of such historic significance, he said.
Also, the State Historic Preservation Office in North Carolina will review the detailed drawings.
Hallac said plans are to renovate the double keeper’s quarters to balance the park service’s need for housing and to have one side open as a public facility.
“The public will be able to come in and see what the inside of this historic structure that’s 200 years old looks like and learn a little bit about what the lighthouse keepers dealt with,” he said.
To view the Environmental Assessment, the Finding Of No Significant Impact and associated documents, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/CAHA_ocracoke_lightstation.