Statue of Liberty to be reopened amid shutdown after deal with federal government

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Governor Cuomo announced Friday that New York State has reached an agreement with the federal government to reopen the Statue of Liberty, despite an ongoing government shutdown.

“The Statue of Liberty is one of this country’s most recognizable landmarks, attracting millions of visitors to the state every year, and its closure these last 12 days has had a terrible impact on the local economy and tourism industry,” Governor Cuomo said. “Every day that Liberty Island is closed means we are losing visitors who would otherwise be spending at our local businesses.”

Cuomo also had tough words for the country’s politicians, saying, “While the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington D.C. has failed to keep this important state asset open, New York is stepping up to take over this responsibility.”

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Cuomo was proud to announce the reopening of the Statue of Liberty for the Columbus Day holiday, and thanked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for her work.  The U.S. Department of the Interior shuttered national parks and furloughed more than 2,000 workers after the government shut down last week.

The Department of the Interior has been willing to reopen parks in states where governors agree to fully fund Nation Park Service employees, however.  Those paychecks will not automatically be reimbursed, and Congress will have to pass a new measure for those governors to see the parks employees’ compensation returned.

The Statue of Liberty, which was closed for almost eight months after Superstorm Sandy battered the tri-state a year ago, brings in some $174 million to the local economy, according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

A 2012 National Parks survey found that the more than 10,000 daily visitors spent an average of $35 each at Liberty Island, and as much as $100 outside the park with each visit.  The shutdown also affected workers with more than 400 people losing their jobs and ferry crowds dropping 50 to 70 percent.  The federal government itself has been missing out on $50,000 a day in fees from licensed concessioners.

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