The Statue of Liberty, a victim of the ongoing government shutdown, will reopen to tourists this weekend as part of a deal reached by New York State and the federal government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
Under the agreement, the state will pay the federal government for the first four days of reopening the iconic landmark with funding coming from the state’s tourism budget, Cuomo said. The state can keep the park open if the shutdown continues only if it gives the Department of Interior two days notice for every additional two days it is open.
Reopening Liberty Island will cost the state $61,600 for each day the park is open.
“Every day that Liberty Island is closed means we are losing visitors who would otherwise be spending at our local businesses—not to mention the employees who maintain the park and have been forced out of work,” Cuomo said. “As the shutdown continues, we cannot afford to lose the thousands of visits to the park each day.”
“We will not allow this international symbol of freedom to remain closed because of the dysfunction and gridlock of Washington,” the governor added.
Liberty Island National Park, popular among tourists, generated $174 million in 2011, according to National Park Service’s 2012 annual report. The park served 3.7 million people two years ago, with the average visitor spending an average of $35 for the ferry, food and souvenirs, the report said. The park also employs more than 2,000 people.
“This majestic landmark was a welcoming sight to my grandparents when they arrived in this country from Greece,” said Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). “I am proud to work with my partners in state government to ensure that the Statue of Liberty is reopened to welcome tourists and new citizens, proving that even in the midst of this government shutdown in Washington, D.C., New York will continue to lead the way.”
The state’s payments to the federal government will not be reimbursed unless Congress passes a law to refund individual states, officials said.
Similar deals were reached to reopen Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.