Five people – Richard Cunningham with the Port Authority, David Knowles, Director of Parks for the Bahamas National Trust, Marcus Bethel, National Park Warden and two Hole in the Wall Lighthouse Restoration Committee members, Preston Roberts and Mirella Santillo – took a trip to the lighthouse on July 21 to make a preliminary assessment of what had to be done to the lighthouse and to the surrounding grounds to make it more accessible.
They found that the last few hundred yards of the access road was very much overgrown by trees and bushes barely wide enough for a truck to go through as well as the immediate area at the bottom of the lighthouse hill. Branches and tall grasses had to be cut to make a passage to go up.
Knowles made assessment as the group looked around. He noted that a turn-around area would have to be created most likely using a D5.
He also mentioned that a straight road bypassing the caves would have to be created. The path and the stairway to go up the hill will have to be cleared. A cast iron pipe running from the cistern to some of the buildings, blocking the way up, will have to be remove or relocated as well as the cesspit line. Moreover, the path to the shore has been completely taken over by sea grapes.
Since most of the land surrounding the lighthouse is private property, Knowles decided that a survey will have to be done to determine the boundaries and make sure the work undertaken by the BNT and the Committee is within those boundaries.
It was also assessed that the grounds surrounding the outer buildings will have to be cleared and some trees removed as well as around the cistern and the toilet at the bottom of the hill.
The roof structures of the buildings have to be fixed and the windows closed.
The lighthouse building itself has been cleaned and all the mercury removed. Cunningham went up to the lantern room to assess the strength of the stairs. He said they were OK, but there are a couple areas of concern where the concrete supporting the stairway has cracked. Roberts and Knowles agreed that an engineer should check these areas. Cunningham said that the wood of some of the steps has already been replaced and that an engineer with the Port Authority, Clarke, could do the structural check.
As they left the property, they agreed that a date for a major cleanup is to be planned around September or October and should be decided at the August 9 meeting. Resorts doing business in South Abaco will have to be contacted to enroll their help.