By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Security screening for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island may move out of Battery Park as soon as next year, the National Park Service said.
The Park Service is exploring options to move the unsightly tents and long lines of tourists out of the historic park, where they were "temporarily" installed after 9/11.
"We may have overextended our stay there," said Frank Mills, deputy superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
One possibility was to move the security screening to Ellis Island, Mills said. Visitors would still buy their tickets in Battery Park but would not go through a metal detector until they disembarked on Ellis Island, Mills said.
The National Park Service hoped to make a decision on the move within three to six months and implement it within the following year, Mills said.
In the mean time, the National Park Service planned to get rid of the metal crowd control barriers that blanket the tip of the park and replace them with more subtle ribbons and stanchions, like the kind found in movie theaters. The Park Service hoped to make that change by Memorial Day, Mills said.
Downtown residents were thrilled to hear about the proposed changes when Mills presented them to Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee on Wednesday.
"It would be nice if they could leave our park as just a park, instead of making it look like you’re in airport security," said Liz Williams, a Financial District resident.
Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, has long been advocating for the National Park Service to move the security screening out of the park, especially as a multi-million-dollar renovation of the park approached completion over the next couple years.
Mills said that if security screening on Ellis Island proved successful, it was possible that it could be incorporated into the city’s plan for controlling access to the 9/11 memorial.
Rather than having tour buses inundate downtown, tourists might board a ferry in New Jersey, stop on Ellis Island to be screened, and then head to the World Trade Center, Mills said.
"We’re only in the very beginning stages of considering that," Mills said. "We’re going to keep working on it."