The National Park Service and Town of North Hempstead continue to be at odds over stewardship of Stepping Stones Light, a lighthouse off Kings Point that the town took control of in 2008 through a national preservation program.
In October, the Park Service gave the town a Dec. 9 deadline to establish a new preservation timeline and financial plan for restoring the structure, first lit in 1887 and still an active navigation aid for boating traffic.
The town responded, taking issue with the deadline and saying it believed the conversation was at a crossroads. “If we cannot get on the same page, we will use our good offices to assist in the transfer of this property to whomever it is that the Parks Service would like to see managing this effort,” North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman wrote in a letter.
The Park Service is preparing a response, but spokesman Phil Sheridan said: “What we got was not what we were seeking.”
The request for additional information came after the town filed a compliance report in September with the Park Service about Stepping Stones saying that because of the economy, little had been done but that the structure was sound.
The Park Service asked for a revised plan to take into account new realities. “The idea is if you don’t do it, you don’t just not do it, you have to make alternative plans,” Sheridan said.
The town says it is fully willing to provide support services and seek outside money to help restore the lighthouse but it will not use taxpayer dollars. “We’d love to do the right thing but it’s got to be done in a way that is fair to us and proper for them,” Kaiman said.
The town, he said, has applied for a $400,000 grant for work at the lighthouse and plans to file an updated plan in January.