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$439K Grant Brightens Future For Bridgeport's Black Rock Harbor Lighthouse

Phil Blagys, former president of the Black Rock Community Council, and Stuart Sachs, who leads the Council's Lighthouse Committee, stand at St. Mary's By the Sea, a Bridgeport park overlooking the Black Rock Lighthouse, visible in the distance.
Phil Blagys, former president of the Black Rock Community Council, and Stuart Sachs, who leads the Council's Lighthouse Committee, stand at St. Mary's By the Sea, a Bridgeport park overlooking the Black Rock Lighthouse, visible in the distance. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Phil Blagys, former president of the Black Rock Community Council, and Stuart Sachs, who leads the Council's Lighthouse Committee, stand at St. Mary's By the Sea, a Bridgeport park overlooking the Black Rock Lighthouse, visible in the distance.
Phil Blagys, former president of the Black Rock Community Council, and Stuart Sachs, who leads the Council's Lighthouse Committee, stand at St. Mary's By the Sea, a Bridgeport park overlooking the Black Rock Lighthouse, visible in the distance. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The 193-year-old Black Rock Harbor Lighthouse, which survived a one-two punch by Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, will soon receive much- needed restoration work, thanks to a nearly $439,000 federal grant approved by the National Park Service.

Word of the funding, a Disaster Relief Assistance Grant administered through the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, came at the September unveiling of a new memorial to Kate Moore, the longtime 19th-century lighthouse keeper.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department began opening bids on the project on Oct. 1 and work will likely begin later this year or in early 2016, said Steve Hladun, the department’s special projects coordinator.

Members of the Black Rock Community Council, a neighborhood organization that supports the lighthouse at the mouth of Black Rock Harbor, said recent storms have removed some of the large rocks that protect the base of the lighthouse, leaving its foundation within a few feet of the water at high tide.

“It was already compromised, but after Sandy it was really compromised,” said Phil Blagys, former BRCC president who encouraged the city to apply for the grant.

Stuart Sachs, who leads the BRCC’s Lighthouse Committee, said much of the restoration work will involve “shore armoring” in the harbor channel. An extensive amount of rock will be placed on an angle to stabilize and create a wider rocky area to protect the lighthouse in both storms and normal high tides. The plans also include a new steel door for the lighthouse.

“The work, primarily, will be done in the water,” Sachs said. “We’re losing the ground on the north and northwest side to the point where the foundation is exposed to wave action.”

The work will require approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, he said.

Blagys and Sachs said the lighthouse is both a safety marker for boaters and an emblematic symbol of Bridgeport’s rich history.

Built in 1822 to replace an 1808 wooden lighthouse that blew over in 1821, it is the third oldest lighthouse in Connecticut, after New London Harbor Light (1801) and Faulkner’s Island Light (1802).

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