NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Once again, four teenagers have found their way to the top of the long-shuttered and decaying Astro-Towers at the old New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported on how dangerous the towers were when a similar incident happened last month. But this past Tuesday afternoon, four more teenagers – ages 16 and 17 – were caught up in the saucers at the top of the towers Tuesday afternoon.
They were ticketed for trespassing.
Joe Puleo, who leads the AFSCME Local 983 union representing parks enforcement patrol officers, said it is actually the third time it’s happened in the last few weeks.
“It’s becoming ever more popular for these kids to go up the towers and make these postings on Instagram,” Puleo said.
The space-age Astro-Towers were constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair. They tower above the park, but have been vacant, rusting and decaying for about 50 years.
The dangerous stairs inside the towers are rusting and crumbling.
“Our officers actually risked their lives to go up there and retrieve them,” Puleo said.
And city parks watchdog Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Parks Advocates, said the stairs are a disaster waiting to happen.
“One slip and that’s death,” Croft said.
Kids who spoke to CBS2 in the park said they can see why it’s tempting to go into the towers, but they would like to see it made safe.
“I wouldn’t want any of my friends or brothers or siblings to get hurt,” said Alina Collado of Queens.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation said trespassing in the towers is not acceptable and is not safe.
“These acts of trespassing go beyond simple rule breaking – the towers are not suitable for access and they are locked as a matter of public safety,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said in a statement.
A few weeks ago, CBS2 found a fresh padlock on the door at the base of one of the towers right after an incident. But there was still a hole in the fence.
On Thursday, the hole was patched up, and another fresh padlock had been put in place. The last one had been cut.
But Croft said there is more the city should be doing.
“First of all, the city should be placing ‘no trespassing’ signs up there. They need to be bolstering up those locks; putting heavier locks on there,” Croft said. “And there needs to be some kind of a sensoring device.”
And the union for the officers would like patrols dedicated specifically to the 1,200 acres in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
“You would probably need at least, at the bare minimum, two patrol units with two people in there — and that would be four total,” Puleo said.
Currently, patrols also stop at 10 p.m. rather than operating 24 hours, Puleo said.
“After that, what goes on is undetected,” he said.
The Parks Department said it is looking into putting cameras up around the area. But the officers’ union said such cameras are helpful after the fact, rather than stopping someone from getting hurt.