Lead paint discovery shutters Greenport carousel until at least Memorial Day

Greenport’s historic carousel in Mitchell Park will remain closed until at least Memorial Day following the discovery of lead paint on one of the roundabout’s painted horses, Mayor Kevin Stuessi said.

A test restoration was being conducted on one of the attraction in late March, with the goal of determining “what it was going to take to remove the old paint and refinish the horses,” Mr. Stuessi said. “They have all aged, shall we say.”

The restoration expert “tested the paint and determined that it contained lead, so the village stopped the work and shut down the carousel,” he said. “Since that time, we’ve tested everything within the carousel.”

Mr. Stuessi said that “at this point, the goal is to reopen Memorial Day [weekend], but that’s still undetermined.”

The mayor added that several remediation firms have visited the carousel in recent days and Village Hall is awaiting formal time and cost estimates to strip off the lead paint and restore the horses using non-toxic materials.

“It’s likely the original paint from when the carousel was first manufactured,” Mr. Stuessi said.

Recent testing as part of a restoration project determined that the paint on the Greenport carousel’s horses contains lead, forcing officials to shut the iconic roundabout down until at least Memorial Day. (Credit: Chris Francescani)

The carousel is believed to date back to about 1920, based on serial numbers and other details, Greenport Village Carousel Committee member Majory Stevens told The North Forker in 2021. In the 1950s, Northrop Grumman purchased the carousel for use at company picnics and community events held at its Calverton plant.

The plant was decommissioned in 1995, and the aerospace and defense contractor offered to donate the carousel to a local community — setting off a competition that included Riverhead Town and a New Jersey amusement park. A letter-writing campaign spearheaded by Greenport’s third and fourth grade students ensued, and in July, 1995, the village prevailed.

“Dear Grumman, how are you today?” one letter read, according to former Mayor David Kapell. “May Greenport have this carousel? We need it! Please. There is nothing in this town for kids and it would be nice. I’d love a carousel. If you let us have it that would be nice. Please! From the desk of Mark DeLano.”

In 2016, artwork from local artists was added to the carousel’s rounding boards above the horses.

Mr. Stuessi said that he hoped to have restoration proposals and estimates by Monday to provide to the Village Board. If the board approves, the work will begin as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to reopen it as quickly as we can, while making certain that it is safe and fully functional,” he said. “We’re also evaluating long-term strategies for the maintenance of the carousel.”