WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Conimicut Shoals Lighthouse is often featured in videos and magazines promoting Rhode Island tourism, but after decades without any significant improvements, the historic beacon is in desperate need of repairs.
The lighthouse is located roughly a half-mile off the coast of Warwick, and the city is now searching for funding to repair it.
“The lighthouse was actually established in 1868. The current structure dates back to 1883,” Lucas Murray, the city’s principal planner said.
The historic beacon was fully automated in 1963 and is now powered by solar panels.
“It’s an aid to navigation,” Murray said. “It does have a light in it. It’s currently active. The Coast Guard uses and services it, and there’s also a NOAA weather station in the structure that’s active and in use … for tide gauges, wind, etc.”
Warwick bought the lighthouse about 17 years ago, but a $500,000 federal grant to make repairs never materialized. Since then, storms, waves and its age continue to take their toll on the Rhode Island icon.
“The paint is chipping and fading on the outside,” Murray said. “We’re missing some railings. The boat jetty to get in is slowly getting in disrepair. We just need to get it safe.”
Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi said the lighthouse has “been let go for far too long.”
“We just can’t let it go any further,” he said.
The city recently applied for a Community Project Funding grant through Rep. Jim Langevin’s office.
The grants are part of the Economic Development Initiative through the Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. Any project requests must be used for economic and community development activities and demolition or the rehabilitation of housing or facilities as well as capital improvements of public facilities.
“We’ve gotten support from the governor’s office, speaker of the House, many legislators,” Picozzi said. “It’s not just the people of Warwick who care about it.”
The city has asked for $775,000 in federal funding. It’s estimated the project will cost $1 million, but Picozzi said rest would be made up through other grants and city funding.
In the grant application obtained by 12 News, the city said the money would be used to cover the costs of weatherization, painting, improvements to the jetty, railing replacements and window replacements.
The city would also like to install an American with Disabilities Act-compliant kiosk at Conimicut Point Park to educate residents and visitors of the significance of the lighthouse without having to physically visit or enter the structure.
Part of the kiosk plans may include a web camera from the lighthouse which could be seen onshore.
“We want to preserve this lighthouse. It’s part of Warwick’s history,” Picozzi said. “We want to make sure it’s part of its future.”
City officials plan to visit the lighthouse in the next couple of weeks so that if and when they receive the grant money, they can start renovations right away.