Long Island's newest lighthouse adds some nautical flair to a rocky Patchogue pier.
The 22-foot-tall beacon at the end of a jetty extending into Patchogue Bay at Brookhaven Town’s Sandspit Marina is part of a $1 million effort that also includes the rebuilt jetty and a new fishing pier and small park that are expected to be added over the next two years.
The lighthouse — topped by a black spire and festooned with the Brookhaven and Patchogue seals, and the village's name in block letters — replaces a stack of concrete slabs that had been at the end of the jetty.
“That’s what it was — a bunch of cesspool rings piled on top of one another," Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said. "We had to replace that."
The lighthouse, which is maintained by the town, does not require full-time staff to run it. The solar-powered, steel structure features an automated light that serves as a navigational guide for recreational sailors and Davis Park Ferry captains.
Pontieri said there is a 12- to 14-foot-wide gap separating the jetty and the tower, to discourage graffiti and vandalism.
“It’s been pristine since we set it up,” he said.
In terms of size, the Patchogue lighthouse pales in comparison to its much older Long Island cousins. The Fire Island Lighthouse — one of the tallest in the United States — stands 168 feet high; the Montauk Lighthouse is 110 feet, 6 inches tall.
Patchogue's lighthouse can be seen from the village's nearby Shorefront Park and the many restaurants and marinas that dot the shoreline.
The idea for the lighthouse originated with plans to rebuild the jetty. Initial concerns centered on silt that had filtered into the mouth of the Patchogue River following a dredging project about 12 years ago, officials said. The sand buildup disrupted boats and ferries.
Town and village officials sought help from state lawmakers after the jetty was destroyed in 2012 by superstorm Sandy.
Pontieri credited then-State Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) with obtaining $600,000 in state funds for the jetty reconstruction, and an additional $50,000 for the lighthouse. Brookhaven kicked in $300,000 for the project, and the village added $100,000.
“It’s a fantastic project,” said Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley. “It’s been an amazing addition to the town. The feedback has been wonderful. It’s a landmark for the boaters. People go there in the morning, have their cup of coffee and look at the beauty of the Great South Bay.”
The town plans to add a fishing pier atop the jetty next spring, and a small park with a pergola and benches will be built late next year to open in 2021, Foley said.
Pontieri said there has been "great public response" to the lighthouse, adding that many residents lined up to watch as it was constructed.
Adding its own lighthouse is another step in Patchogue's transformation following decades of decline, and a sign that the village has become a destination for tourists, Pontieri said.
“What was there sort of symbolizes what we were, and what’s there now symbolizes what we are,” the mayor said.
LONG ISLAND'S LIGHTHOUSES
The Patchogue structure joins a long list of others in Nassau and Suffolk counties:
Cedar Island, 32 feet tall, built 1839
Cold Spring Harbor, 40 feet tall, built in 1890
Eatons Neck, 73 feet tall, built in 1798.
Fire Island, 168 feet tall, built in 1826.
Horton Point (Southold), 58 feet tall, built in 1857.
Huntington Harbor, 42 feet, current tower built in 1912.
Little Gull Island, 81 feet tall, built in 1869.
Montauk, 110 feet, 6 inches tall, built in 1796.
Old Field, 30 feet tall, built in 1869.
Orient Point, 64 feet tall, built in 1899.
Race Rock (Fishers Island), 45 feet tall, built in 1878.