Schumer Asks Why Statute of Liberty Remains Closed

Three months after Superstorm Sandy slammed onto its shores, the Statue of Liberty is still closed for business — and New York Senator Charles Schumer wants to know why.

Standing at the blustery tip of Manhattan Monday morning with the Statue of Liberty behind him, Sen. Schumer said New York is losing millions in tourism dollars while one of its most iconic monuments is closed to the public.

“Today we are asking the Department of the Interior something very simple: Give us a date. Tell us when the statue is going to open,” Sen. Schumer told reporters. “Give us a progress report as to why it’s taken more than three months.”

The statue was left largely unscathed by the megastorm, but Liberty Island, the tiny sliver of land in the New York Harbor on which the national monument sits, sustained severe damage. At one point during the storm, officials say, three-quarters of the island was underwater.

The New York senator said he wants answers about what is taking the Department of the Interior, which maintains the Statue of Liberty through the National Parks Service, so long to reopen the monument.

“Right now, the closest you can get to the statue of liberty is by holding something like this,” he said, holding up a miniature replica of the 126-year-old monument. ”That’s not good enough.”

Sen. Schumer also said that more than 400 New Yorkers who work at the Statue of Liberty, giving tours at the monument or helping unload passengers at its docks, have been out of work since the late October storm.

National Parks Service officials say the infrastructure on Liberty Island, including the docks, was devastated during the storm, and say they still don’t know when the monument can be reopened. “The electric, water, sewer, phone systems, security systems, radio equipment, were totally destroyed,” said Linda Friar, a spokeswoman for the National Parks Service. “I just don’t have a date yet.”

Friar said the National Parks Service had to wait for federal storm dollars to come through before beginning the bulk of the repairs, but should have a better idea of how long the process will take in the next two weeks. The Senate passed a $50.5 billion aid package for Sandy relief last week.


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