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Contact: John Harlan Warren, 718-354-4608; cell 917-829-0425
The National Park Service (NPS) recently awarded a $4.9 million contract for the restoration and rehabilitation of the William Fitts Ryan Center at Floyd Bennett Field, Jamaica Bay Unit, Gateway National Recreation Area (NRA) to RAAD Construction Group, LLC of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. RAAD Construction will rehabilitate the historic passenger terminal building and create a primary visitor facility and administrative center for Gateway.
The refurbishing of the Ryan Center is being contracted and managed by the Denver Service Center of the NPS. Work includes updating the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems as well as installation of a fire suppression system, intrusion alarms and the restoration of the historic interior features consistent with the center's original design.
"We want visitors to see the Ryan Center the way Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes saw it when they flew in and out of Floyd Bennett Field," said Linda Canzanelli, acting superintendent for Gateway NRA. "The paintings and panels depicting modes of transportation will also be restored to their 1939 appearance. Visitors will be able to see this building as it was during the Golden Age of Aviation."
The Ryan Center, located in Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, opened as the terminal for New York City's first municipal airport May 23, 1931. It was a popular destination for aviators who were seeking to break records. Between 1931 and 1939, 26 around the world or transatlantic flights started or ended at Floyd Bennett Field. The center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ryan Center was closed to the public in the spring of 2010 in preparation for the rehabilitation and is expected to reopen in the fall of 2011. The rehabilitated passenger terminal will include exhibits of the history of Floyd Bennett Field. It will also provide meeting space and visitor information for the attractions of Gateway's Jamaica Bay Unit, which includes Floyd Bennett Field.
The project is partially funded through a $4.8 million dollar grant from the Department of Defense, made possible by the support of U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.
The airfield was transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1941, when it became a Naval Air Station supporting the war effort. The airfield was transferred to the NPS in 1972 as part of the enabling legislation for Gateway. The visitor center, located at the terminal for Floyd Bennett Field, was named after William Fitts Ryan, a United States Congressman from 1961 until his death in 1972. Ryan championed the creation of Gateway as a unit of the National Park Service.
Gateway National Recreation Area spans three New York City boroughs and includes the Sandy Hook peninsula in New Jersey. This national park includes more than 26,000 acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, miles of sandy beaches, indoor and outdoor classrooms, picnicking and camping areas as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York Harbor. The park offers urban residents in two states a wide range of recreational opportunities year round. With over nine million visitors a year, it is the third most visited national park in the country.