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Statue of Liberty in Need of Funding

November 09, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — A nonprofit group is looking for private donations to fund security improvements needed to reopen the Statue of Liberty, which has been off-limits to the public since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The federal government has spent millions of dollars on upgrades, but about $5 million worth of security measures still are needed before visitors can go inside the 151-foot-high statue, National Park Service spokesman Brian Feeney said.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which oversaw Lady Liberty's restoration in the 1980s, has offered to help raise the funds, Feeney said.

The Statue of Liberty National Monument, a 58-acre island in New York Harbor, was closed to the public immediately after the attacks.

Threats to destroy the statue prompted an increase in the number of government boat and air patrols.

The island was reopened in December 2001, after metal detectors were installed to screen visitors before they boarded the ferry for the island from Lower Manhattan.

Tourists still can't climb the statue, and the number of visitors to the monument has dropped by about half to about 2.5 million a year.

Planned upgrades include fire and emergency notification systems and more exits from the monument.

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