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Sands Point lighthouse gets $600G state grant

The nonprofit group restoring the historic Execution Rocks Lighthouse off Sands Point has gotten a boost from a $600,000 state grant.

Craig Morrison, president of Philadelphia-based Historically Significant Structures, said the group learned this week from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation it would be eligible for the funding. The money would cover almost half of what's estimated to be a $1.4-million restoration.

"It's fantastic," Morrison said.

But there's a significant catch. The state will reimburse the organization for 50 percent of what it spends, up to a total of $600,000, within five years. "We have to present paid bills from contractors to the state to get the money."

And so far the group has raised only $3,000. "We need a lot more to even start contracting" - about $100,000. "We're still looking for corporate and private sponsors."

Morrison said restoration work on the structure built in 1850 would begin with removal of lead paint from the interior. That could be done this summer if enough funds are raised.

The grant would also probably cover the cost of running electricity out to the lighthouse, restoration of the interior of the keepers' quarters and painting the exterior of the tower, Morrison said.

The second half of the work would include reconstruction of the steam engine room, general cleanup of the island and reconstruction of a shed that would now enclose a bathroom.

The grant funds would come from the state's Environmental Protection Fund under a program administered by the parks agency.

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