Weiner Wants Statue Of Liberty's Crown Reopened
Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House of Representatives Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committees, climbed the stairs to the Statue of Liberty's closed crown today and announced that Congressional hearings into reopening Lady Liberty will begin on Tuesday, September 18 in Washington, D.C. The statue is the only national park to remain closed since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The hearings, which will review management of the statue and the decision to keep Lady Liberty's crown closed, will be chaired by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee.
While Lady Liberty's base, pedestal, and observation deck were reopened in August 2004, her crown - and the observation deck it houses - remain closed. The statue's crown is the only site overseen by the National Park Service that has yet to re-open since 9/11. The National Park Service oversees such sites as the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota.
The Interior Department's failure to reopen Lady Liberty has had a profound impact on New York City's economy. Since her crown was closed to the public, the statue has seen a 40.8 percent drop in visitors. This loss of 2.24 million tourists has cost New Yorkers millions in lost economic benefits.
Weiner has been a longtime vocal critic of the Park Service's failure in "courage and imagination" to reopen the statue. In July, Weiner's legislation providing the National Parks Service with $1 million in the Interior Appropriations bill for the purpose of reopening the Statue of Liberty unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
In April 2004, Weiner called on the Government Accounting Office (GAO) - the non-partisan, chief investigative arm of Congress - to initiate a federal investigation into the fund-raising practices of the Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island Foundation.
The Foundation, a non-profit organization, said they were working in partnership with the National Park Service to raise the funds to reopen the statue. But while the Foundation raised sufficient funds to re-open the statue, Lady Liberty remains closed.
"The National Parks Service has repeatedly ignored the will of Congress to reopen Lady Liberty and send a strong message that America will never yield in the face of terror," said Rep. Weiner. "It shouldn't just be Congressmen get to enjoy the thrill of gazing at the New York City skyline through the iconic crown of the Statue of Liberty.
These hearings will finally allow us to get answers why the Parks Service is choosing to deny this generation of guests the same experience."