Weiner: One Step Closer To Reopening Crown
America is one step closer toward reopening the iconic crown of the Statue of Liberty to public access, announced Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
On Monday, Weiner, who has been leading the fight to reopen the crown since 2004, released the official National Park Service (NPS) document detailing their request for a plan to provide additional safety measures to Lady Liberty's crown. Weiner had requested such a plan during Congressional hearings more than nine months ago.
While Lady Liberty's base, pedestal, and observation deck were reopened in August 2004, her crown - and the observation deck it houses - remained closed. The Statue's crown is the only site overseen by NPS that has yet to reopen since 9/11.
Weiner has led Congressional pressure on NPS to reopen Lady Liberty's crown. In 2005, Weiner introduced legislation, the Save the Statue of Liberty Act, to require the Secretary of the Interior to completely re-open Lady Liberty by September 11, 2005. After the legislation was ignored, Weiner led Congressional hearings on the matter and forced NPS to commit to provide information.
The result of the Congressional pressure is that NPS has now officially called for private contractors to prepare plans to "minimize life and safety risks to staff, visitors, and emergency management personnel" who would be in and around the Statue.
According to NPS, they distributed the request to an estimated 800 firms that specialize in providing security services. The deadline for submitting plans is July 9, 2008. The plans would be finalized by January 2009.
Weiner has been a longtime vocal critic of the Park Service's failure in "courage and imagination" to reopen the Statue. Admitting that narrow staircases and sensitive locations created security challenges, Weiner offered, and the House of Representatives unanimously passed, an amendment to provide NPS with $1 million for the specific purpose of overcoming these obstacles.
Weiner said, "The bureaucracy which had stubbornly refused to open the crown is finally moved in the right direction.
Today's news means that America is one step closer to providing what everyone wants: safe access to the heights of Lady Liberty."