John Piro, co-founder of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a local group dedicated to restoring the 1964-1965 World’s Fair figure in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, said the delinquents were causing havoc.
“They came in with a stolen van, broke the lock [of the park] and set the van on fire,” said Piro, who saw the aftermath on Monday morning after the Parks Department saw it on Sunday.
He said they also burned the tarp on the gravel, knocked down steel beams and even damaged what’s left of the Pavilion’s terrazzo map on its ground by using a cinder block to smash the map’s corner panel.
“It’s heartbreaking, after all the work we’ve done,” Piro said. “Hopefully it will never happen again.
THE COURIER/File photo
The incident, first reported by the New York Daily News, comes at the heels of the World’s Fair 50th anniversary celebration just two months ago. The Pavilion opened to the public for the first time in decades this April to also commemorate the historic event.
Last November, the Parks Department released plans to fix the relic, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. Borough President Melinda Katz created a task force of local officials, and civic and community leaders to construct a plan for the Pavilion’s future.
For now, Piro said he is just grateful nothing worse happened.
“They could have caused a lot more damage,” he said. “Now we have to try to do something preventative.” He said they’re looking into something along the lines of an alarm.
The Parks Department said it inspected the site and only found minimal damage.
“This will not have any effect on our efforts to stabilize and preserve the New York State Pavilion,” parks officials said.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.