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Westchester County Determined To Restore Nearly 150-Year-Old Lighthouse On Hudson River

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- In Westchester County, the tab is a couple million dollars to restore a historic Hudson River lighthouse.

Adjusted for inflation, the $3 million price tag is six times more than the original construction cost.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Wednesday, the county blames years of deferred maintenance.

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It's dwarfed by the new bridge just to the south. The so-called "Sparkplug" lighthouse, completed in 1883. It's made mostly of cast iron.

It's now in need of serious help.

"This lighthouse is one of the small hidden, historical jewels of Westchester County," County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky said.

The plan is to polish it up.

The brickwork is crumbling. The cast iron structure is rusty. It needs new windows and new floors.

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The cost includes a new gatehouse on the mainland and a Cathodic protection system to safeguard against the elements.

"A low-voltage electrical current that goes through the metal parts and the concrete, toward the rebar,  to prevent some of the erosion that goes on from being in the water," Deputy Parks Commissioner Peter Tartaglia said.

First-term County Executive George Latimer says decades of neglect drove up the cost.

"The $3 million price tag here would be a lot less if we had invested in this lighthouse as we went along or if we had made the massive repairs necessary 10 years ago," Latimer said.

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Aiello stood in a landfill. When the lighthouse first was built it was a full half-mile off shore. Every two days, someone in a boat brought fresh milk to the keeper and his wife.

When the restoration is complete, the story of daily life in the lighthouse will be told in a more organized way. Old newspaper clippings show one keeper and his wife raising kids here.

The county said the place has charm and potential as a tourist attraction, and after its facelift will shine once again.

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