“We are simply a borough of community and a borough of history as well,” said Borough President Melinda Katz last week. “New York State Pavilion and Flushing Meadows Park is a key element to the history that we have here in the borough of Queens.”
There had been talk of razing the Pavilion, but Katz made its preservations a priority. The project was completed by New York Structural Steel Painting Contracts Association 9 and International Union of Painting and Allied Trades Local 806 pro-bono as part of the union's apprenticeship program.
“We are truly thankful to the Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the painters who donated 8,000 hours of labor to beautify and preserve this iconic landmark,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
The new paint will act as a layer of protective coating to help preserve the structural integrity of the half-century old landmark.
Kieran Ahern, president of the Contractor’s Association, said it was his father, painting contractor Timothy Ahern, who had originally come up with the idea to do the work for free. Kieran was honored with a special plaque that commemorates his late father by Lewandowski at the ceremony.
In addition to the nearly 30 painters that donated about 8,000 hours, 13 different vendors donated to the project and 1,600 gallons of donated paint was used. The total estimated cost of the free work was $3.25 million.
“Due to the tremendous generosity, the pavilion has been refreshed with a new coat of paint in the original 'American Cheese' on time, as scheduled,” Katz said. “We're working hard to save this architectural marvel, and this facelift is a great boon to our efforts.”
The painting project was part of an overall rehabilitation of the pavilion, which is expected to be complete in fall of 2016. In addition to the new paint job, an overall $8.9 million investment into the pavilion will include electrical and structural work on both the Tent of Tomorrow and the adjacent towers. The goal is to fully open the structures to the public eventually.
At the unveiling, officials announced an additional $650,000 in money will fund drafting plans for the improvements to the towers.
“This is one step in a long process of saving the New York State Pavilion,” Katz said.
She quickly corrected herself and said, “If I could make one announcement: I think that the New York State Pavilion has officially be saved. We're going to stop talking about saving it.”