NEW YORK (WCBS 880 / AP) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is remaining mum on proposed changes to security procedures for people hoping to visit the Statue of Liberty.

Tourists who wait in lengthy screening lines at the southern tip of Manhattan before boarding boats to the Statue of Liberty would instead get onboard and go through security on Ellis Island under a proposal being discussed by city and federal officials.

The plan would eliminate hour-long waits at Manhattan’s Battery Park and at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, where passengers are shuttled to both Ellis Island and Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, visitors were screened only when they went inside the Statue of Liberty.

The New York Police Department wants to examine the ramifications of the plan before any protocols are changed, said Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

Tourists who only want to go to Ellis Island wouldn’t be screened, said Michael Burke, the chief operating officer of Statue Cruises, which operates the ferries.

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Burke said the plan would streamline operations, improving tourists’ visits. The plan also includes a building for security at Ellis Island, so visitors could avoid heat, rain or wind while they wait.

“Our boats will be secure, people will be safe and the people will have a better experience,” he said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports that the feds’ lack of initial consultation with the New York City Police Department was brushed off by Bloomberg on Thursday.

“We’re not going to sit here and talk about any security plans that anybody has,” Bloomberg said.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell with comment from Mayor Bloomberg

The proposal is the latest example of making the monument more visitor-friendly since it closed to the public after 9/11. The statue’s base reopened in 2004, but the observation deck at the top of Lady Liberty’s crown remained closed until July 2009. It’s scheduled to close again in the fall for emergency exit improvements.

Details of the plan were first reported in The New York Times, but it has been discussed for months.

“The city is working with the federal government to address the needs of all the different users of the park,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s spokesman Jason Post said in a statement. While the federal government has jurisdiction in the matter, federal authorities often work with the city due to shared security concerns.

Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, which oversees the islands through the National Parks Service, declined to discuss the proposal but confirmed that the department is working with the city to find ways to improve parks management there.

In the years after the attacks, other plans to change security have been floated, including using a nearby pier to screen passengers, or land owned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Burke wasn’t sure who came up with the newest plan.

He said the boats would be subject to the same post-9/11 security procedures that the Coast Guard imposes on the Staten Island ferries and commuter ferries around the harbor.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. Ozzy says:

    I live in Battery Park and we tried to get security into Pier A. How about that building? We like the Park Police in our area, we dont see NYPD too often.

  2. G Norman says:

    Burke is an idiot, just a businessman trying to make more money and doesnt care about security.

  3. Thomas says:

    All this will do is move the lines to Ellis. I visited and it wasnt that bad. The US Park Police are very professional.

  4. nyc says:

    Make an area at the top of the statue of liberty for fanatic muslims to jump off to go to Allah !

  5. JR says:

    We went last year and it was not that bad, and we went on a weekend. Johnny, they use “homeland security” just to justify more jobs, most of it is nothing more then a horse and pony show, being paid for by you and I, the taxpayers.

  6. johnny says:

    Give me a break. Why do we need security here? A huge waste of time and justification for the excess amount of police officers hired.

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