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New generation reboots Astoria’s Taminent Club

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Western Queens Democrats are hoping that a longtime Astoria political club’s recent face-lift will lure the community’s younger residents to become active in politics.

The Taminent Club, at 33-09 23rd Ave. in Astoria, was founded in 1955 by long-time Democratic district leader and city Sanitation Department deputy commissioner Ralph Demarco.

The powerful club was heavily used in the 1970s and ’80s by Astoria leaders such as former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and state Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria). But the building had become outdated and began to fall into disrepair in recent years.

Earlier this year, the club’s members gave the Taminent a full makeover by completely cleaning up the site, adding new computers, installing phone banks and making it available for Wi-Fi. Old posters that celebrate the history of the club, reading “Greek Americans for Clinton/Gore” or “Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President,” were dug out and put up on the walls.

Western Queens leaders said the club’s renovation was aimed at getting the scores of young people moving into Astoria to get involved in the community.

“It’s something that the existing leadership recognized as a necessity,” state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “The neighborhood is changing, getting younger, so the club has to reflect that and become more progressive. It needed a fresh modern approach.”

Gianaris has made the club the official headquarters for his Senate campaign to replace Onorato. Aravella Simotas, an attorney who is running for Gianaris’ seat, has also set up shop at the club.

“It’s an exciting time for Astoria because a younger generation is becoming part of the local process,” said Simotas, who hosted her campaign kickoff at the club earlier this month. “We want to open our doors and let people be part of it.”

Simotas will face off in the Democratic primary against Jeremiah Frei-Pearson, who officially announced his campaign Monday at Steinway Street’s Sissy McGinty’s in September.

But the club is not only for political uses. The building has long hosted canned food and clothing drives, barbecues and community events.

Both the Taminent’s women’s club and its entire membership have met monthly for the past 50 years.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said the Democratic club has long had influence in the community and now has a building to once again match its stature.

“It’s always been a very powerful club, but now it has a clubhouse that is more fitting,” he said. “It looks 100 percent better. It’s a good place to get involved in the neighborhood and be heard.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 5:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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