Just as the New York State Pavilion seems to be getting a new lease on life, vandals broke into the 50-year-old World’s Fair icon recently, causing minor damage to the facility.
John Piro, who heads the volunteer painting project at the pavilion, said Friday that the interlopers broke the lock to the gate and drove a stolen van onto the Tent of Tomorrow grounds over the weekend of July 19.
The original terrazzo floor, featuring a map of New York State, has deteriorated over the years and is now covered with gravel and tarp to protect it. Piro said that vandals set fire to the truck, which was stolen in Valley Stream, LI. He said the truck was destroyed and the fire burned the tarp into the gravel.
A piece of the map was smashed with a cinderblock as well.
“There was enough damage,” Piro added. “Let’s hope nothing else happens now.”
His group was organized in 2009 and since then volunteers have cleaned the area and restored the red and white stripes along the base of the Tent of Tomorrow, among other areas.
“We may add an alarm system,” Piro said.
The group’s next project is to paint the VIP deck of the pavilion within the next couple of weeks.
Zack Feder, spokesman for the Parks Department, called the damage “minor” and that there was nothing irreplaceable lost. He said the vandals drove through the gate, breaking the lock, which has been replaced.
In April, the city opened the Tent of Tomorrow to the public, drawing thousands of visitors. Since then, efforts to preserve and restore the pavilion have strengthened.
Borough President Melinda Katz recently announced the allocation of nearly $6 million to begin repairing the tent and the three observation towers.
In addition, Gov. Cuomo has provided $5 million in awards to 14 historically significant properties that suffered severe damage from Superstorm Sandy, including the New York State Pavilion.
The Parks Department will receive $127,000 to undertake an assessment of damage to the cable roof structure, to determine the impact of Sandy and to develop cost estimates for stabilization, with the possibility of basic repairs.
People for the Pavilion, another group looking at ways to preserve the site, issued the following statement regarding the funding: “The continued support from elected officials for the preservation of the pavilion is extremely encouraging. PFP will continue to work with our partners at the local, city, state and national levels to develop a sustainable reuse plan for the pavilion, and to encourage further support for the structure.”
Piro announced that Parks would once again open the Tent of Tomorrow to the public on the anniversary of the fair’s closing for the season in 1964. The event will take place on Oct. 17.