The movement to save and preserve the New York State Pavilion just got its biggest backer yet.
With the Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers, the two rusting icons of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, behind her, Borough President Melinda Katz officially called for the preservation of the structures on Thursday, just months before the 50th anniversary of the global gathering the pavilion was built for.
Joined by Assembly members Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing), Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, Parks Department representatives, various community board leaders from across the borough and the three-man People for the Pavilion preservation group, Katz emphatically declared her wish to see the pavilion saved while on a walking tour of the site.
“My hope in being here today with everyone, and for causing some notice for this, is to try and bring these groups together and I felt like there needed to be a push in getting folks in a direction,” Katz said. “I think we all know the right direction. The right direction is to preserve [the pavilion] and save this for generations to come to make it a useful part of the park and to make sure it doesn’t fall down on people around it.”
In addition to just voicing her support for the movement, Katz also said that a task force dedicated to brainstorming ideas and uses for the site will be created within the next month.
The group will meet either once a month, “or at least quarterly,” at Borough Hall, according to Katz, and will be made up of the Borough President’s Office, community board leaders, the Parks Department, elected officials, historical groups and People for the Pavilion, although Christian Doran says his group has yet to receive a formal offer to join the task force.
“Preserving the history of Queens is really important to me and we’ve got a lot of partners,” Katz said. “One of the things that we need to do is to make sure we’re taking everyone’s opinions into account. This is a Queens project from my perspective, and it’s really a New York City project from my perspective too, because anything that helps Queens helps the entire city.”
The expensive nature of any action regarding the structures has been a topic of discussion for years, but Katz believes that the $72 million dollar cost of restoring the site should be viewed in a different manner than before.
She believes that, because the price tag of demolishing the buildings is so high, estimated at around $14 million, that it would be worth it to spend the additional $58 million to bring the pavilion back to life as something newer generations of Queens residents can appreciate and enjoy.
Markey wholeheartedly agrees with Katz and, while the time between now and any structural work on the pavilion should be measured in years, she is hopeful that whatever project should occur at the site will be completed within the decade.
“People come from JFK Airport and it’s one of the first thing you see to let you know you’re in Queens,” Markey said. “It’s going to take maybe five to seven years but it will be money well spent. I’d like it to be a community space where people can go to concerts. There are so many concepts for the space.”
Doran, while hopeful for the future of the site, couldn’t be happier at the outpouring of support from elected officials on both a city and state level.
“We are more than excited that all of this is going on. It’s moving along so much faster than anticipated,” Doran said. “We’ve got nothing but positive feedback along the way. It speaks to the effect and the promise that the building has.”
Like Katz’s soon-to-be-created task force, People for the Pavilion is planning future information sessions, but no dates have been finalized as of yet.