In the first time since it opened its doors to the public in the early 1950s, the United Nations might close its doors to the public, due to safety concerns. None other than Mayor Michael Bloomberg is insisting that the building be closed.
In a contemptuous meeting with U.N. officials, Bloomberg staffers tell Newsmax that the recently inaugurated renovations to the 38-story Secretariat building have reached a stage where safety has become a prime concern.
City hall is worried that the thousands of tourists who transit the 40-acre headquarters daily could be exposed to falling plaster and other scaffolding that has been erected throughout the U.N. compound.
The renovations are part of a six-year $2 billion restoration plan known as the Capital Master Plan (CMP). The U.N. has had no major "updates" in over 50 years.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has repeatedly complained that the deteriorating U.N. headquarters is a "safety and health hazard."
Less than three weeks ago, a scare arose when traces of methane gas were found in the Secretariat. Emergency workers traced the problem to an old underground abandoned landfill, rather than to a punctured gas main.
It is problems like this that has city officials concerned. While the U.N. is on international territory and normally out of the reach of U.S. officials, on issues regarding health and safety, the U.S. still retains jurisdiction. It is not clear whether city hall or the White House will impose any restrictions on the world body.
The U.N. is one of the most heavily visited tourist attractions in New York. Only the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center site draw more tourists.
It is believed that more than 5 million tourists passed through the U.N. in 2007. That figure does not include the numerous movers and shakers who frequent the posh Delegates Dining Room overlooking the East River.
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