With security concerns and storm damage finally sorted out, Lady Liberty will finally be open to the public again starting July 4.
The Statue of Liberty was cut off from the public for over a year due to renovations, until a schedule reopening date of October 28 last year. That promise changed slightly as the National Park Service announced that only the crown would be open again.
But that access lasted only briefly, as the monument was directly in the path of the superstorm Sandy "surge" last year. Officials said about 75 percent of the island was submerged under water.
While the statue itself was undamaged, rushing waters destroyed utilities, a backup generator and power systems, and nearby docks sustained significant damage. Bricks were strewn around island pathways by violent floodwaters.
And then came the security battle between the NYPD and the National Park Service: the NYPD was appalled at the National Park Service's plan to only screen ferry passengers at the interim station on Ellis Island, and have no security screening at the initial point of departure in Battery Park.
After an open letter from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to the Department of the Interior citing concerns of possible threats of terrorism, Senator Charles Schumer got involved in the negotiations.
"I know the NPS cares deeply about the monument and its visitors," Schumer said in late May, "but in this case I think they've made a mistake and should rethink this policy change."
Schumer's cajoling was apparently successful, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last month that the National Park Service decided to temporarily conduct screenings in Battery Park when the statue re-opens.
"It's the right decision," Bloomberg said, "and an example of government agencies working together to achieve practical solutions."
Commissioner Kelly today said he is satisfied with the planned security measures.
"I think they responded well and we appreciate it," he said.
Kelly said the NYPD has no specific security concerns regarding the reopening of the statue.
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