The ferry service from Liberty State Park to Ellis Island and Liberty Island will be suspended from January 3 to March 12, leaving ferries to Battery Park in New York City as the only way to reach the monuments.
Jerry Willis, spokesperson for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument, which are managed by the National Park Service, said the reason for the suspension was twofold: an expected “dramatic decrease” in visits to the during the new year and an increase in the number of visitors. the cost of security for operations at the Jersey City park.
He explained that visitors who took the ferry from LSP went through a security tent on a barge and from there onto the ferry. Around Christmas 2020, however, the barge sank in a storm, and since then visitors have had to walk about 300 meters to another jetty before boarding.
“Operationally it’s a challenge because now you have a much larger passenger area to secure, so we had to put in extra staff to do it,” Willis said. “So now, when we look at such low numbers forecast for these few months, it becomes unresponsive financially to continue the operation. “
Sam Pesin, president of Friends of Liberty State Park, doubted the reason for the suspension, arguing that money could have been found to pay for the increased security.
“I think it’s really unfortunate and it should and could have been avoided, because when the (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) discovered it by the NPS, the DEP and the Governor should have asked Senators Menendez and Sen Booker to get the money to pay the officers, ”he said.
Willis said the NPS does not own the sinking barge – the state of New Jersey does, and that the Department of Transportation has a plan in place to replace it, but he could not confirm what stage is this project at? He added that an additional reason for the closure was that the state of New Jersey could not commit to clearing the area around the ferry pickup, and it would be too difficult to coordinate snow removal with the Statue National Monument. of Liberty.
Pesin called the snow removal issue “bogus” and expressed concern for people who did not see the notification of the New Jersey ferry closure.
“A number of people are just going to show up at Liberty State Park and… they will find out that there is no ferry,” he said. “New Jersey school groups or tourism business groups cannot travel (to the Statue of Liberty) from Liberty Park. … This means that they have to go all the way to the end of the battery and pay the toll for the tunnel.
Willis pointed out that in the long term, the NPS plans to make sure people can get from Liberty State Park to the Statue of Liberty.
“About 20% of our visitors come to the islands through Liberty State Park, and 80% of our visitors come via Battery in New York, but we are committed to restoring year-round service from Liberty State Park,” he said. -he declares.
For Pesin, however, the suspension remained an avoidable mistake.
“That’s one hell of a reason to shut down the ferries that connect New Jersey to the Statue of Liberty because there isn’t enough money to pay the officers,” Pesin said.
Ironically, it was the hassle of going to New York City to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, a stone’s throw from Jersey City, that led to the creation of Liberty State Park. Pesin’s father, the late Morris Pesin, began pushing for the creation of the park and a ferry service between it and the statue after a tiring trip to the statue with his family.
In 1958, Tom Durkin, a former Pesin and Jersey Journal reporter, set off in a canoe from the shore of then-abandoned train stations to show how absurd it was not to take advantage of the proximity.
In less than 20 years, the park was created and opened.