CHELSEA — The High Line's lights are still dark more than five months after Hurricane Sandy, forcing visitors to leave the public park before normal closing time — but officials said they hoped to have them back up and running by next week.
Since Sandy, which damaged the park's electrical systems, the lights that line the esplanade and illuminated walking paths along the stretch have remained off, cutting the park hours short.
During that time, park staffers have had to turn away unsuspecting park-goers at dusk, before the stated 7 p.m. closing time, due to the storm-damaged lights, according to witnesses.
"Until daylight savings time, the park was operating on a limited schedule, from dawn to dusk," said Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for Friends of the High Line.
"However, with the daylight savings time shift, dawn and dusk now coincide with the park’s winter hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so the park is operating on a normal schedule."
But Lindquist said Friends of the High Line anticipates the park will get its lights back up — and extend its park closing hours until 10 p.m. — no later than Friday, April 5.
Last year, the park shifted to its spring schedule of 10 p.m. closing times on April 1.
The High Line's limited hours surprised some visitors, who said they were told to leave the park prior to sunset this week by High Line staffers and Parks Enforcement Patrol officers who explained that the park was closing early due to the broken lights.
During Sandy, flooding in underground vaults waterlogged the High Line's electrical systems, causing significant damage.
The elevated park was closed for a week after the storm, re-opening on Nov. 5 with a limited schedule.
Friends of the High Line has been working with the city's Parks Department to restore electricity to ever since, Lindquist said.