ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Cuomo administration official says talks aimed at reopening the Statue of Liberty are under way between state and federal officials.
The official said the state is working with parks officials to try to determine the cost of a plan to reopen the popular visitors’ destination in New York Harbor. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly and no deal has been reached.
The state would likely cover the cost to reopen the Statue of Liberty as long as the government shutdown continues.
PHOTOS: Gov’t. Shutdown Impacts NYC
New York has 33 sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, including the statue and nearby Ellis Island.
They’ve been shut since Oct. 1 because of the partial federal shutdown in an ongoing standoff between the Obama administration and Republican majority in the House.
As WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell reported, tourists are taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park.
“It’s really put a damper on our trip,” tourist John Salas told Haskell.
Salas said Lady Liberty was one of the top sites he was hoping to see up close.
“There’s the statue, the World Trade Center and I guess the Empire State Building,” the Houston man told Haskell.
Governors in at least four other states have asked for authority to reopen parks within their borders, citing economic losses from closures.
“It is just terrific news that the governor of New York has stepped forward to help us reopen the Statue of Liberty,” said Bradford Hill, president of the company that operates the gift shop and food service at both the statue and Ellis Island.
Hill said his company, Evelyn Hill, has laid off 110 employees because of the shutdown. He estimated that 152,000 potential visitors have been unable to visit since Oct. 1.
The statue is normally open seven days a week. The 82-year-old company would like to bring its staff back immediately and could reopen tomorrow morning, Hill said Friday.
He said he had been told that the park service had been planning to open Ellis Island, which has been closed for repairs since Superstorm Sandy, in some fashion Oct. 28.
Hill estimated his firm has lost about $750,000 in sales from the shutdown.
The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island had also been closed due to damage from Superstorm Sandy, but was reopened to the public on July 4.
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