The Bayside community rallied together last weekend in a continuing effort to save a historic tennis club.
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Bayside Historical Society (BHS) spearheaded a protest against the controversial sale and demolition of the North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club at 34-28 214th Pl.
“There’s a constant push in our area — in our suburban area — to make it urban, to overdevelop it. We’re here to say ‘no,'” said BHS President Paul DiBenedetto. “BHS would ideally prefer the tennis club site stays fully intact, including the historic clubhouse and its 14 tennis courts.”
Members of the society first heard about the potential sale at a monthly board meeting and made a unanimous decision to take action. Back in December, details about the tennis club’s sale surfaced as multiple sources confirmed that the club’s president and board intended to sell the property to Cushman and Wakefield. The developers would then raze the property in order to build houses for residents.
Those at the rally shouted “Save our club!” and “Investigate the deal!” in reference to the deal that NSTRC President George Pauliny struck, unbeknownst to many of the 855 club members.
The club’s history extends back to 1909 when a group of neighbors built a tennis court in a resident’s backyard. The official club, then known as the Bayside Tennis Club formed in 1914 and in 1925 the club moved to its current location at 214th Place.
“We all work together to continue to push back on some of the challenges that we have with overdevelopment, specifically in this part of Queens,” said Assemblyman Ed Braunstein. “I’m joining with everybody today to urge the members of the North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club to reconsider their decision to sell this piece of property given the long history that it has here.”
DiBenedetto shared that BHS is “unilaterally opposed” to plans that would raze the property, but if that were no longer an option and “no other option exists” the society would accept a plan that allows part of the property to be sold while retaining the historic clubhouse and a portion of the courts.
“This property should have been landmarked. Queens has got the fewest number of landmarks in the entire city,” remarked one rally attendee, who declined to be identified. “The landmark committee is a sham and they have a complete anti-Queens bias. This clubhouse is a beautiful asset, it’s been here since 1925. They can’t do something?”
DiBenedetto said that BHS would submit a “last-minute” request for proposal (RFP) to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in an attempt to landmark the nearly 100-year-old tennis clubhouse. According to him, the property could not be demolished if it were an official landmark.
In the past, the BHS has successfully been able to landmark five other places in Bayside and Fort Totten Historic District which was designated in June 1999.