Bd. Eyes World’s Fair Landmark Rescue
Restoring the New York State Pavilion to some semblance of its former glory ranks among the top budget wishes sought by the Queens Borough Board and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
During its meeting last Monday, Mar. 10, at Queens Borough Hall, the board-composed of Queens’ 14 community board chairpersons- unanimously agreed upon a capital and expense budget priority list created by Katz’s office for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Along with recommending funding for items such as affordable housing and increased after-school programs, the borough’s budget wish list calls for millions of dollars toward the restoration of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s New York State Pavilion, a futuristic landmark left to rot for much of the past five decades.
Erected for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion features three spaceship-like towers that once housed an observation deck and restaurants adjacent to the “Tent of Tomorrow,” an elliptical space that featured on its floor a large-scale, mosaic tile Texaco roadmap of the Empire State.
After the fair closed, according to the Parks Department, the pavilion had, for a time, a roller skating rink and served as a performance space for the Council for International Recreation, Culture and Lifelong Education.
The entire pavilion has been left abandoned since the mid-1970s; in recent years, historians advocated for its preservation as one of the few remaining landmarks of the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
Katz led reporters and civic leaders on a tour of the pavilion in February, during which she announced her office would form a special task force to plan for the pavilion’s restoration.
Last Friday, Mar. 14, Katz led the task force’s first meeting at Queens Borough Hall, holding a “fruitful discussion” that “ended with its members agreeing to continue working on a viable plan for the iconic structure.”
As previously reported, the Parks Department estimated last year it would cost up to $72 million to fully restore the pavilion. Merely preserving the structure would be about $50 million.
In the budget priority list approved last Monday, Katz is seeking $45 million in capital funds from both the city and state toward restoring the pavilion over the next four years, a spokesperson for Katz told the Times Newsweekly last Friday. The funding request includes $972,000 in electronic upgrades and $3.1 million to install new roofs on the three towers.
Meanwhile, the group People for the Pavilion announced on its Facebook page Monday that the pavilion would be opened to the public for the first time in decades for a brief period on Tuesday, Apr. 22.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. that day, guests will be able to walk through the pavilion’s north gate, view the interior and take photos. Hardhats will be provided to all visitors; reservations are not necessary.
The organization thanked the city’s Parks Department and the New York State Pavilion Paint Project Crew for its efforts to make the viewing possible.
Other items on the budget wish list include:
– awarding contracts for middle school after-school programs;
– increasing funds for the Summer Youth Employment Program;
– building new affordable housing across the borough;
– increasing funds for various cultural institutions across Queens;
– establishing a NYPD substation at Flushing Meadows Park;
– creating a new 116th Precinct in southeastern Queens; and
– establishing new “slow zones” across Queens featuring pedestrian countdown signals, speed cameras and other devices aimed at reducing the number of vehicular and pedestrian accidents on local streets.
“The budget priorities that my office have prepared and that the Borough Board [has] approved outline a meaningful approach to solving some of the long-standing challenges faced by the Borough of Queens,” Katz said in a press release. “They are aimed at helping our city meet the needs of our borough’s diverse population in a fiscally prudent manner.”