Sara Gold, 27, of New Jersey, stopped to catch her breath on her way up the 192 steps of the Fire Island Lighthouse.
A few steps later, she made it to the top.
“It would be nice to see this view every day,” Gold said as she leaned on the railing and looked down at Robert Moses State Park and the Great South Bay.
Gold, who was visiting the lighthouse for the first time, described the sight as “beautiful and scenic.”
After a three-week closure, the lighthouse, a guide for ships coming into the New York Harbor, reopened to the public Saturday.
The tower was closed to install measuring devices and to remove pieces of building material to examine the impact of weather-related damage caused over the years, said James Dunphy, the Fire Island National Seashore facilities manager. “The materials will be sent to a laboratory for testing,” he added.
Anthony DeGregorio, of West Islip, a staff member at the lighthouse, said “the structure is safe and solid.”
“Sensors were placed on the sides of the lighthouse to monitor moisture, movement and cracks,” DeGregorio said.
Monitoring devices will be in place for a year to gather information on the tower's structural performance, the National Park Service said in a news release.
The lighthouse is operated by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service.
Bob LaRosa, president of the preservation society, said that during the closure, scaffolding wrapped around the entire base of the lighthouse so workers could get up and down the structure to assess it.
The project cost $414,000, according to officials.
“No one was allowed in the tower,” LaRosa said. “Now we’re open seven days a week year-round, even in the winter,” he said with a smile.
Many consider climbing to the top of the lighthouse the main attraction.
“It hurt us a lot,” LaRosa said regarding the closure of the tower. “It’s the only thing we charge for here.” It costs $8 to climb the lighthouse, but there is no charge to see the Fresnel lens building, which displays the lighthouse's original lens, the art studio, the Keeper’s Quarters Museum and gift shop and the boat house.
Tour guide Patricia Masterson climbed the steps of the lighthouse to start her two-hour shift. “People come from all over to see the lighthouse," Masterson said. “There was just a couple here from Belarus,” she said with excitement.
Ken Wells, 58, made his way to the lighthouse from Delaware after visiting family in Islip. Wells admits he didn’t know about the lighthouse reopening. “It’s a nice attraction; the view is spectacular," Wells said.
The upgrades strengthened the terrace substructure, repaired parts of the exterior brick wall, reset the Connecticut Bluestone terrace pavers, improved drainage and made the entranceway safer, the National Park Service said.
LaRosa said he hopes the tower will be repaired and repainted within the next two years.