By Bill Parry
For the second time in a month, a group of youngsters was caught sneaking into the World’s Fair observation towers at Flushing Meadow Corona Park. On April 14, officers from Parks Enforcement Patrol saw that the lock on the door to the towers had been clipped and heard people speaking from the platform.
The officers climbed the tower staircase where they encountered four youth between the ages of 16 and 17. They were escorted from the tower and issued Environmental Control Board Summonses for trespassing to three of the teenagers. The fourth, who did not had identification, was taken to the local precinct.
“These acts of trespassing go beyond simple rule breaking,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said. “The towers are not suitable for access and they are locked as a matter of safety. We are grateful to the Parks Enforcement Patrol officers who ensured that everyone got down safely.”
Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, a non-profit and non-partisan watchdog group, warned that the locks “are flimsy beyond belief” and electronic monitors are needed at the World’s Fair site.
“The city should get its act together,” Croft said. “It’s dangerous up there. All it takes is one slip and that’s it. This is now nine kids in just a few weeks,. Itiseems to becoming more of a trend because of social media, they post their selfies on Instagram and Facebook.”
Croft wrote of this incident and another on March 15, when five youngsters were caught on the highest tower, in his blog. “A Walk in the Park” says more security is needed. “PEP has been doing a terrific job but there’s only so many of them,” he said.
A Parks official said PEP patrols Flushing Meadow Corona Park seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the agency is working with the 110th Precinct to further secure the area. New locks and chain link fencing have already been installed and they are studying the feasibility of installing cameras.
Late last month, Borough President Melinda Katz was at the Pavilion to witness an external lighting test, part of a $5.8 million restoration project to stabilize the structures. She believes restoration of the site should discourage such dangerous trespassing in the future.
“We’ll have more foot traffic here with people coming and going,” Katz said. “We’ll be bringing people into the park, bringing this place back to life. That will keep the loiterers away.”
“That’s why the restoration is so important,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a time when the public can safely access this wonderful site and additional funding is made available to make that a reality.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr