Avella opens up new shop on Bell Blvd. in Bayside

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From his new perch above Bell Boulevard, City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) doesn’t have to walk too far if he wants to keep a close eye on his constituents.

With a wall of slanting windows that practically extend from floor to ceiling, his office above Tiger Schulmann’s Karate Center on Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue provides an enviable bird’s-eye view of Bayside’s main commercial strip. His district also covers Whitestone and College Point as well as parts of Little Neck and Douglaston.

Although admittedly spacious, the councilman’s office was thoroughly cramped Saturday morning as dozens of constituents and well-wishers poured through the doors to celebrate the official opening of his new home.

“It is the center of the district, and it works well,” said Bayside community activist Frank Skala as he lingered over a tray of food in the conference room. “It gives him a window on our main street. He can look out of the office and see what’s going on.”

The open house turned out to be so popular that Anna Marretta of Marretta Bakery had to call for reinforcements from her famous sweet shop when the food trays were wiped out by ravenous constituents within the first hour. Refreshments were also donated by Bourbon Street, Monahan & Fitzgerald, Annamaria’s Bagels and Papazzio, along with personal contributions from Rosemarie Kramer and Bernice Berman.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) could hardly contain her enthusiasm — tinged with a pinch of envy — when she first set eyes on the office, which she said would be critical in helping Avella serve his constituents.

“I can’t believe this luxury,” she said upon greeting the councilman, who was elected in November to the seat that had previously been held by the term-limited Council Minority Leader Mike Abel (R-Bayside).

“It’s not luxury, it’s efficiency,” Avella replied without missing a beat.

The space was once inhabited by a women’s health club, but its most recent tenant was a computer company that cleared out a few months ago after giving the landlord only two days’ notice.

Avella was already in negotiations at the time to lease a nearby space from the same landlord, who then gave him the opportunity to move into the suddenly vacant offices — which he did in the middle of January.

“People feel comfortable coming to this location, sitting down and talking about the issues,” he said, promising it would be “the most technologically up-to-date office possible.”

That was already clear at Saturday’s open house, where constituents were already huddling around Seth Urbinder, who works on constituent affairs, to tell him about a dangerous intersection they would like to see improved.

For Avella, it simply gave credence to a promise he has been making since his campaign.

“I intend to be the most accessible councilman in the City Council,” he said, before quickly adding, “and the hardest-working.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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