NEW YORK — The National Park Service is considering reopening Lady Liberty's crown for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to documents a congressman released on July Fourth.
The park service requested bids last month to study what it would take to safely open the Statue of Liberty's iconic headpiece to the public, according to documents released by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.
Liberty Island was closed after the terrorist attacks. The statue's base, pedestal and lower observation deck reopened in August 2004, after a $20-million effort to enhance fire safety.
But the crown and its interior observation deck, which soar about 265 feet above New York Harbor, remained closed because the Park Service said there was no way to evacuate them safely in an emergency. The narrow spiral staircase that leads up to the crown doesn't comply with fire and building codes.
Visitors are now limited to the statue's 154-foot-tall pedestal.
Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, helped arrange a congressional hearing in September on reopening the crown.
He said keeping the observation deck shuttered hurts the city's economy: Since the crown closed, the number of visitors to Lady Liberty has dropped sharply.
The Park Service said Friday that several architectural and engineering firms have assessed visitor access since the attacks, and that all concluded the area from the pedestal to the crown doesn't meet safety codes. The newest Park Service survey, sent to nearly 800 security firms, asks them to prepare plans that address whether the statue can be updated to meet fire safety codes, and, if not, how the service can minimize safety risks there.