By Connor Adams Sheets
History sure seems to repeat itself for the Queensboro Motorcycle Club.
The biker group was unceremoniously uprooted from its original clubhouse among the old ash heaps of central Queens in 1939 to make way for the creation of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in time for that year’s World’s Fair, according to Bill Goldstein, the club’s president.
The resilient club, which turns 100 this year, was never compensated for its property, Goldstein said, but it pushed on and eventually found a new slice of Queens in Willets Point, where members built a modest clubhouse behind a chain-link fence between two warehouses on 34th Avenue.
“To some people it’s not much, but to us it’s a home,” said Mark Marciano, the club’s vice president. “This is our little corner of the world.”
But time and the inattention of city officials took its toll on their new digs, and the Iron Triangle turned from bad to worse as the years passed. And it looks like the Queensboro riders may be rolling into the sunset once again.
The city never installed sewers, running water, sidewalks or other urban amenities in Willets Point and the 62-acre section of land is in a new administration’s sights.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has paved the way for a multibillion-dollar mixed-use development to replace the area’s industrial and auto shops. The city claims it has bought or is in agreements to buy 64 percent of the land and it recently began to relocate businesses to other sites.
The plans for Willets Point leave the bikers in a lurch as they attempt to continue their gatherings, rides and community service activities from a point with an uncertain future. Goldstein said the club pays $4,000 a year in taxes and he asks only that the city tell them what will become of them in coming years.
“We understand that this is an area of contention and that no one wants to breathe a word about it,” he said over sodas in the club’s wood-paneled meeting room. “But we pay $4 grand a year and we get nothing for it. We get no road repair, no sidewalks, no streetlights, there’s no sanitation. This place is an absolute pigsty.”
Or, as club member James Frost put it last week, “it looks like Beirut now.”
Years of unattended potholes and ruts have turned the roads of Willets Point into a minefield for motorcyclists, and earlier this month a member of the club slowly riding to the clubhouse hit a nearby pothole, sustained minor injuries and damaged his bike, according to club members.
The state of disrepair has reached a breaking point, members said, and member Jan Borodo has been compiling a file of the club’s repeated requests for repairs. Borodo has a file with dozens of copies of documents he has sent to Bloomberg’s office, the city Department of Transportation, 311, Community Board 7 and a number of news outlets in hopes of getting basic repairs done — all of which have yielded little or no results.
The group’s members said they do not want to fight the city — they only want to know what lies ahead. Goldstein said the group is willing to take a fair relocation deal or to stay if the city makes improvements.
But the state of limbo is taxing their patience.
“We’re paying the taxes and no one’s listening,” Goldstein said. “The underlying question is what are they going to do with us? Are they going to throw us out, are they going to treat us fairly? I mean, enough already. Tell me what you’re going to do so we can figure out what we want to do.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.