Schumer, Menendez, Weiner Demand National Parks Service Reopen The Statue Of Liberty By July 4th
Lady Liberty was Closed Following 9-11 and Has Only Been Reopened at the Base
Schumer to Offer Amendment to Immigration Bill to Reopen the Statue of Liberty if Interior, Parks Department Dont Immediately Guarantee Opening Date
Today Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Anthony Weiner called on the National Parks Service to reopen the Statue of Liberty by July 4th. Lady Liberty was shut down, like other monuments following September 11th and has since only been partially reopened. Visitors are still prohibited from climbing up to the Crown, one of the monuments most popular attractions.
Americas symbol of freedom has sadly become a symbol of fear, Schumer said. When I was a child my father would take us up to the crown, and I would stare, on my tiptoes, to what I thought were the ends of this earth. It is time that we reopen this beacon of hope.
"To simply say that you can go visit the island and pat Lady Liberty's toes is not enough," said Rep. Weiner. "The National Parks Service should heed the will of Congress and the desires of Americans, and restore the Statue of Liberty to her full glory by Independence Day.
The Statue of Liberty is close to the hearts of many Americans, including myself, Menendez said. Countless Americans have taken their children up to the crown to see the magnificent view of the harbor, but no American has been able to share that experience since 9/11. In 2004, the National Park Service declared the Statue open again, but they only opened the island and the pedestal. I believe the Interior Department needs to fully reopen the Statue of Liberty to the public.
The Statue of Liberty closed on September 11, 2001, and Liberty Island remained closed for 100 days. After airporttype metal detectors were installed to screen visitors boarding ferries from Lower Manhattan, the US Parks Service reopened Liberty Island in December 2001. The number of visitors to Liberty Island had dropped precipitously since before the attacks, mostly because tourists had only been allowed around the perimeter of Lady Liberty and have been prohibited from entering the statue itself.
On August 3, 2004 the Statue of Liberty reopened for first time since 9/11, but visitors were and continue to be restricted to the Statues base and still arent able to climb the 354 steps to the Statue's crown. Instead, only the observation deck on the Statues pedestal were opened. Visitors can view the Statue's interior framework through a glass ceiling portal, but they cannot actually enter the Statue. While the observation deck is 150 feet (approximately 16 stories) above the water line, it is near the base of the statue and does not offer anything like the view from the top of the Statue.
Schumer today said that if the National Park Service doesnt give them am immediate guarantee of an opening date by Independence Day, he will offer an amendment to the Immigration bill while it is on the floor of the United States Senate or in conference to have the statue reopened by an act of Congress.
The bottom line is that its been too long for the entire statue to not be fully open. NPSs foot dragging has gotten us nothing but a view of Lady Libertys toes, and its not good enough, Schumer said. Im going to fight tooth and nail to make sure we get this done.
Schumer, Menendez and Weiner today sent letters to the Interior Department the National Park Service, demanding that the Statue of Liberty is reopened by July 4th of this year, with new and improved security precautions. In their letter to Interior Nominee Dick Kempthorne and Director Fran Mainella they wrote: For countless immigrants who sailed into New York harbor, Lady Liberty was their first encounter with a country who valued democracy and freedom over tyranny and repression. Since the terror attacks of 9/11, visitors have been prohibited from climbing the 354 steps that lead from the base of the Statue of Liberty to her crown. I am asking you implement the necessary security protocols needed to reopen this American treasure by the 4th of July, 2006.
In August, 2004, Schumer and Wiener called for improved security measures so the entire Statue of Liberty not just the statue base, would be accessible. They called for using the TSA DoNotFly lists to screen all visitors. These TSA list is currently used to prescreen White House prechecks potential tour guests. They renewed their call for the security mechanism today.