Friday, August 13, 2010
Plum Beach Lighthouse Repainting Project to Begin
The Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, deed-holders of the historic icon located beneath the Jamestown Bridge on Narragansett Bay announce the beginning of the first phase of the repainting of the lighthouse. Contractors for Abcore Restoration of Narragansett will be mobilizing equipment to the lighthouse today to prepare for the $50,000 repainting project funded mostly through money collected from the new Rhode Island Lighthouse License Plate Program.
For each set of $41.50 plates sold, $20 goes directly to the lighthouse repainting project. Last October the RI General Assembly passed legislation giving the Friends the right to sell the plates, and since January the group has received more than 2000 orders for the plates.
Two weeks ago at their "Plate Event" the first batch of more than 1600 plates were distributed by the lighthouse group and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Since then the Friends have been collecting more than 30 applications per day as more drivers see the attractive new design."We were told by the DMV to expect many more applications once we handed out the initial order and some of us were skeptical," says Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse president David Zapatka. " Thankfully they proved us wrong and every day we get more and more applications in the mail. It's been a great success and hopefully even more people will see the plates and want their own set."
The lighthouse is familiar to many state residents as having been abandoned and neglected for over six decades until a 2003 renovation saved it from further decay. Now, seven years later it is in dire need of repainting. It is situated under the Jamestown Bridge in North Kingstown and is subjected to daily assault from the harsh marine environment.
The Friends were having a difficult time raising funds for the repainting until the license plates were offered. Now, six months after first selling the plates, the results of their effort is about to pay off. But Zapatka says they're only just beginning to raise money for the lighthouse. "Many think the license plates are no longer available. There is nothing further from the truth. Two weeks ago our distribution of the initial order was really the kickoff of the campaign. That initial order gave us much of the money we needed to get the repainting started, but the lighthouse is going to need ongoing maintenance for years to come and any additional plate orders will go directly into caring for the lighthouse. We hope to be selling the plates for many years."
In addition to the repainting, Abcore Restoration will be replacing and upgrading auxiliary lights at the lighthouse that illuminated the lower levels each night for several hours after sunset. The Friends have also contracted the company to erect a new flagpole where the lighthouse smokestack once stood. At the end of the project the group plans to raise the American flag at the lighthouse. "It's really exciting because it will make the lighthouse look completely alive for the first time in over 60 years. With constant breezes at the lighthouse it will give it a whole new look" says Zapatka. The new flagpole will have its own solar-powered led lights to make it compliant with American Legion night time American flag flying protocol.