Eastpoint Lighthouse Gets A Makeover
The Cumberland County Improvement Authority (CCIA), the Cumberland County Freeholder Board, and the Maurice River Historical Society are pleased to announce that a restoration project being undertaken on the historic East Point Lighthouse in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County is underway.
In August 2015, the County, the CCIA, and the Maurice River Historical Society entered into a multi-party agreement to repair the lighthouse. The County is serving as the financial manager, the CCIA as the project and construction manager, and the historical society as Site Manager.
In the fall of 2015, a public hearing was held, and bidders were pre-qualified. The County received approval for the funds for the project on December 23, 2015. The $852,000 project is financed by funding from the Federal Highway Administration through the New Jersey Department of Transportation and from the New Jersey Historic Trust.
According to CCIA Executive Director Gerard Velazquez, because the work is of an historic nature, bidders were required to demonstrate their experience both with renovation work on historic structures and to have experience working with the New Jersey State Historic Trust. Construction bids opened on March 29, 2016. On Tuesday April 26, 2016, the Cumberland County Freeholders approved a resolution to accept the low bid of Aliano Brothers General Contractors of Vineland for the project. Velazquez notes that because the bid came in under the amount of approved funding, it may enable the partners to add projects to the lighthouse renovation.
Long in need of repairs, the renovation will include replacing the roof, installing a new barrier free ramp, renovating the entire interior, and brick pointing the exterior face of the lighthouse.
County Freeholder Deputy Director Darlene Barber noted that these types of shared services were what the freeholders envisioned with CCIA taking on economic development and construction project management for the County. CCIA Board President, Robert Nedohon, reflected, “It’s very gratifying to see the Improvement Authority’s full breadth of expertise and resources benefiting the County and its residents and partnering with non-profit and private sector.” Nancy Patterson Tidy, President of the Maurice River Historical Society, noted “Navigating the grant process, and building and historic regulations, had proven to be too difficult for the all-volunteer organization so the society reached out to CCIA for help.”
CCIA Executive Director Gerard Velazquez said, “Tourism is an economic driver for the County. The Cumberland County Improvement Authority saw an opportunity for us to meet a need that addresses tourism and economic growth in our Bayshore area and the County.” According to a tourism report done by Oxford Tourism Economics for the State of New Jersey, tourism brought in an excess of $321 millions of dollars to Cumberland County in 2014.
Construction is expected to begin in June and to be completed by the end of the year. While the building is under construction, the lighthouse grounds will remain open during that time and for significant events, including the annual state-wide Lighthouse Challenge weekend in October. For more information on events, please contact Nancy Patterson at (609) 501-6345.
The addition of this construction project, along with the construction, acquisition and renovation of the other facilities, brings the CCIA’s construction management total to more than $120 million.
History of the Lighthouse
The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1849 and is the second oldest lighthouse in New Jersey. Its light was extinguished in 1941, and nearly destroyed in 1971 by fire. The Maurice River Historical Society completed a Phase I construction in the 1970’s that rebuilt the roof and lantern room. In 1980 the US Coast Guard reinstalled the beacon and today it is an active navigational aid as well as the only functional lighthouse on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Bay. It is currently owned by the NJ Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife and is on the national historic register.