National Park Service workers at the Statue of Liberty were called back to work on Sunday morning as the Statue of Liberty reopened its doors to visitors.
They had been sent home for 12 days as a result of the first partial government shutdown in more than a decade. New York State agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site for a period of six days from October 12 through October 17. The states of Arizona, Colorado, North Dakota and Utah, also took on for the cost of their respective national park operations.
David Cespedes, 31, returned to work on Liberty Island on Sunday after 12 days out of work due to the government shut down. Photo by Lea Bouchoucha
David Cespedes, 31, a park service worker, received a call from his supervisor on Saturday asking him to return to work the next day.
“I am personally worried because I have kids, family, rent and bills to pay,” said Cespedes who lives in Woodside, Queens. Cespedes did not get paid in full for the time he was off work. Friday, he received only a partial payment of 40 hours.
“My family was shocked because for me it is the first time that this [a government shutdown] happens”, he said. Cespedes came to the U.S. in 1994 from the Dominican Republic. He has been working at the Statue of Liberty for four years.
Since the start of government shutdown on Oct.1st, about 800,000 federal workers like Cespedes have been sent home.
“They [the Government] are losing money and people need to work and to support their family, ” said Cespedes.
According to figures compiled by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, more than 7 million Americans were kept out of the parks during the first 10 days of the shutdown.
But Sunday morning in Battery Park, hundreds of tourists lined up to be among the first to see Lady Liberty. Marc Grenier from Quebec, Canada said he felt very glad when he found the Statue Of Liberty reopened. The 305-foot-tall monument is one of New York City’s most popular tourist attractions.
Joel Kukuh, 21, studies criminal law and works part time for the Parks Department. He also returned to work on Liberty Island on Sunday, with NY State funding. Photo by Lea Bouchoucha
Joel Kukuh, 21, is also a parks department employee. He works full time at the National Park Service in addition to studying criminal justice at Berkeley College.
“A lot of people showed up today,”said Kukuh. I guess they must have heard the news around the city. It is good to have people here because it makes you feel proud.”
Kukuh received less than half of his regular salary because of the shutdown.
New York State has paid for six days, about $61,600 a day, to reopen Liberty Island National Park.