BY KATHERINE NERI
To honor the legacy of Frank Skala – the late Bayside activist, local civic leader and inspiration – 40th Avenue and Bell Boulevard received a new name this weekend.
“Frank Skala Way” pays homage to Skala, the Bayside resident who dedicated so much of his time to ensuring the bettering of the community throughout his 78 years. On Saturday, gatherings watched the unveiling as the sign was officially introduced just down the street from where Skala grew up himself on 219th Street and 40th Avenue.
The street co-naming took place on Saturday, July 14 – what would have been Skala’s 81st birthday.
His daughter, Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, described her father as a “lifelong Baysider who looked out for everybody and had a passion for where he lived.” She said, “To honor my father here today is really to honor the decades of volunteer work he did for his beloved hometown.”
It seems impossible to doubt Frank Skala’s unwavering pride for his hometown.
Skala graduated from P.S. 41, formerly known as Bayside High School. After receiving degrees at Queens College for both geography and education, Skala taught at Campbell Junior High School 218, now closed, for 33 years, as well as Intermediate School 25.
Although he retired in 1992, he did not stop working. Skala continued to be an outspoken and proactive advocate for projects and organizations that preserved the quality of residential life in the community.
One of Skala’s many notable accomplishments occurred in 1974, when he founded the East Bayside Homeowners Association, which aims to protect Bayside’s suburban nature and maintain the area’s neighborhoods. In 1991, Skala established the New Bayside High Alumni Association. This organization worked to award scholarships and raise money for students.
He also served as a member of Community Board 11 for a total of 12 years.
“His enormous and lasting impact on the community is clearly evidenced by Community Board 11’s unanimous vote to have 40th Avenue and Bell Boulevard co-named in his honor,” said City Councilman Paul Vallone, who posed a bill last year to co-name the street in Skala’s honor.
A month before Skala passed in 2015, he was awarded the State Senate Liberty Medal – recognized as the highest civilian honor bestowed upon a New York resident for “exceptional heroic, selfless and noble acts performed on behalf of one’s community and fellow citizens.”
The new sign is a symbol of how grateful the Bayside community is for all Skala did for his beloved hometown.