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Architect Resigns from Liberty-Ellis Job

February 25, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ The chairman of the architectural engineering committee of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Commission has resigned to protest the government’s firing of Lee Iacocca and its plans for Ellis Island.

″I don’t want any part of it,″ said John Burgee in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Donald Hodel. ″They way they treated Mr. Iacocca was enough for me.″

In the letter, written last week, Burgee reiterated Iacocca’s concern that Ellis Island not be commercialized.

″Plans to build a hotel-conference center developed by private interests ... open the door to further exploitation and a cheapening of this national landmark,″ he wrote. ″I will not become an instrument for the exploitation of this great national monument.″

Earlier this month Iacocca was fired by Hodel from his post as chairman of the commission, allegedly because of a potential conflict of interest. Iacocca also heads the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which is raising the money to restore the monuments and supervising the work.

The controversy appears to be based on competing plans for Ellis Island. Burgee and Iacocca are said to favor the development of what some have described as ″ethnic Williamsburg,″ while the National Park Service has endorsed using the island as a conference center.

Burgee’s firm has designed such major structures as the AT&T building in New York City.

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