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City seeks to put Pavilion on registry of historic sites

The weather-battered New York State Pavilion may soon be listed on the National Historic Registry, city Parks Department officials said.

The application will go to the state Historic Preservation Office, which will submit its findings to the historic preservation board, which will make a recommendation to the state parks commissioner, who will list the pavilion on the state historic registry. The National Park Service is then free to place the item on its registry.

"We would certainly be happy to work with them to get it listed," said state Parks Department spokesman Dan Keefe. "We've determined that it is eligible for listing."

The status could pave the way for federal or state grants to help preserve or restore the aging structures, two of which have stood more or less untouched since the World's Fair closed in 1965.

"We would focus our attentions on tent and the observation towers," said John Krawchuk, director of historic preservation for the Parks Department, noting the Queens Theatre in the Park currently occupies the auditorium.

Crews currently are working to remove two external elevators and other loose components from the towers and the Tent of Tomorrow after summer storms blew several large chunks of debris through the roof of the theater.

The work alarmed preservationist Greg Godfrey, the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Association president, who worried the elevator removal was a prelude to the demolition of the entire site. Godfrey said he was happy but a little surprised to hear that the Parks Department was pursuing the historic status for the pavilion.

"I don't have a clue what we're going to do next," he said. "It's a good jam [to be in], but I want to make sure that it's not an opportunity that's lost. For me personally, I am concerned about it, because I am still looking for the Parks Department to take an active role to get the city of New York to landmark the structure."

Krawchuk said the city landmarking process is more time-consuming and was not sure if the Parks Department would pursue the city status.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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