Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will remain closed for the rest of the year, according to the U.S. National Park Service, as it continues to assess the damage from after Sandy.
Before Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty open to the public docks, railings and other infrastructure will need to be repaired. Both are run by the U.S. National Park Service.
“We are keenly aware of how important the Statue of Liberty is to New York City, not only as an icon but as a major driver for the tourism industry, so we are working as quickly as we can to get the site open,” National Park spokesman Mike Litterst said.
According to National Park Service documents from 2010, the Statue of Liberty contributed $166,402,000 to New York City’s economy, which includes $149,929,000 spent by out-of-town visitors.
The Statue of Liberty, which had re-opened a day before the storm struck the region, did not suffer any major damage. A report from the National Park Service did note that, “more than half of the brick pavers in the promenade around the island have been dislodged.”
Litterst said the islands saw storm surges 12-14 feet during Hurricane Sandy, and flood waters rose as high as 25-feet.
Between November and December of last year, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island had 450,000 visitors, according to the National Park Service.
Valuable artifacts at the Statue of Liberty had been removed during renovation and were not present during the storm, Litterst said. The wall of names at Ellis Island sustained only minor damage.
The Park Service is still assessing how much money it will need to restore the parks and how long it will take, but it doesn’t expect to re-open in 2012.