By Bill Parry
The restoration effort of the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park will receive more than $16 million in federal funding, according to U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
As announced on Nov. 26, the cash infusion will be used to repair and replace several electrical units at the World’s Fair Park and other areas which were severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“The World’s Fair Pavilion is an enduring icon and it should be preserved and promoted for current and future generations,” Schumer said. “Now the pavilion is being restored and these federal funds will be used to repair damaged caused by Superstorm Sandy and help yet another community asset recover after the storm.”
The $16,468,030 grant was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the New York Office of Management and Budget and will be used for repairs at the pavilion as well other storm-damaged areas of the park.
“The World’s Fair Pavilion is one of Flushing’s iconic sites. This funding is an important investment that will help repair the electric components of many of the park’s facilities, including the vaults, concession area, boathouse, main area and comfort station,” Gillibrand said. “These fixes are an important step in recovering from the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused and will help revitalize the World’s Fair Pavilion.”
The structure was designed by architect Philip Johnson for the 1964-65 World’s Fair and afterward was used as a concert venue, a movie set and a roller skating rink before standing vacant for decades falling into disrepair.
In 2014, officials at the city Parks Department estimated it would cost $14 million to demolish but Queens Borough President Melinda Katz declared it would not be torn down but preserved, saying it would “serve as an icon of Queens that is recognized around the world,” and allocating $1 million from the capital budget.
Later that year, the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio set aside $4.8 million in funding for the renovation effort as the Space Age-style structure was designated as a “National Treasure” by the National Fund for Historic Preservation, recognizing historical, cultural or architecturally important sites as part of an effort to raise awareness and funding for their preservation.
In 2015, the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association restored the crown of the pavilion to its original “American cheese” yellow, a $3.25 million project that was completed at no cost to the city, but the three towers were left untouched. Months later they were bathed in light as part of a test run of an LED system that may be installed as early as next year, but the first step was necessary electrical repairs at the pavilion.
The federal infusion will help speed up the preservation initiative while helping other areas of the park.
“This is a tremendous investment toward repair and resiliency in the park on the part of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand that will recover a national treasure here in Queens,” Katz said. “With these additional resources for electrical and structural improvements, we are well on our way to restore and illuminate this historic, architectural marvel into a visible icon befitting the ‘World’s Borough.’”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr