Ellis Island regains status as a gateway for millions

The National Park Service in March is expected to remove an eyesore in lower Manhattan—the large security tent in front of Castle Clinton in Battery Park that's used to screen a daily crush of visitors to the Statue of Liberty.

The tent was erected in December 2001, intended as a temporary measure in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But it has endured, much to the annoyance of tourists and the boat operator that takes them to the island, who have complained for years about long lines that can take an hour or more to get through.

The park service, however, is finally ready to move its security-screening operation to Ellis Island, a plan that was delayed in 2011 because the New York Police Department did not sign off on it when park officials first floated the idea.

"The counterterrorism unit of the NYPD had concerns about how the new system would work," said David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. "We've addressed those concerns."

Apparently, the NYPD does not agree. In a statement the agency’s deputy commissioner, Paul Browne said, “The NYPD did not endorse the National Park Service plan to move all passenger inspection operations to Ellis Island. We have recommended that screening be conducted, as has long been the practice, before passengers board the ferries for the trip to Ellis Island.”

The security tent has remained unused since Sandy floodwaters ruined electrical power sources, walkways, docks and other infrastructure at Liberty and Ellis islands, closing them to visitors.

Park officials expect to announce within the next two weeks a reopening date for both islands, possibly either around the Memorial or Independence Day holidays.


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