There is no doubt that the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse is in trouble. Its underwater foundation is deteriorating and its structure is losing its integrity. Further erosion could cause the base of the lighthouse to sway and sink into the Hudson River.
The Preservation League of New York State recognized this fact and named the lighthouse one of seven historic sites threatened by time, climate and catastrophic damage. Repairing the lighthouse looks to be a heavy-duty job.
Rescuing the lighthouse is, of course, a top priority, making sure that this iconic structure can survive for future generations to learn from and enjoy. But decades of exposure to wind, tides and currents, sun and storms, have taken their toll. The lighthouse and the other six state-selected sites (called the Seven to Save) pose unique engineering problems. The problems with the lighthouse will be tough to surmount.
This year, the lighthouse will enter a new restoration phase. Another underwater study will be conducted to evaluate the condition of the pilings that were replaced in 2009. The next step involves restoring the rip-rap that protects the pilings.
The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Committee is enthusiastic. No one familiar with the lighthouse and its history wants to see this grand landmark closed down, or worse, sink to a watery grave in the Hudson River. Maybe the funding, still to be announced, will be enough to support this project through to its end: a stalwart lighthouse that can withstand the elements for years to come.
Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo, speaking last week, used the word “vulnerable” to describe the lighthouse. We hope the Preservation League’s citation and the funding to follow will change that appellation. The lighthouse is a celebrated and cherished piece of history named for two outstanding communities. The lighthouse is an essential and irreplaceable part of the fabric and identity of the region and must stay that way.