By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Village Trustee Cindy Falk foresees a “pocket oasis in the downtown” when the work now underway in Pioneer Park is done.
Beginning last week, a trench is being dug to create a foundation for a bike rack and bike repair station, and a final plan for the whole park is now being prepared by landscape architect Michael Haas of Delta Engineering, Endwell.
But, as part of the $2 million federal grant to be implemented next year, the final park should include a space for gatherings and performances, a drinking fountain with bottle-filling station, a cobblestone surface and new plantings.
In the works since 2014, the TEP – transportation enhancement program, which passes federal money through the state Department of Transportation – is finally ready to move ahead, completing new sidewalks, and adding a new traffic light at Main and Chestnut, new benches and signs.
For now, the TEP allows work to be done within the street’s right-of-way, “so were leveraging that for the sake of Pioneer Park,” Falk said. “It’s our only really urban park. We’ve been long thinking about what can happen there … We can’t work in the park with the federal money; but we can work on the edges.”
In recent days, deteriorating steps that allow entry to the park from next to the Tunnicliff Inn were removed, as were some overgrown bushes and an unhealthy tree, said the trustee, who chairs the Village Board’s Streets Committee.
The work underway “differentiate between the park and the sidewalk,” thus better defining the park itself, which will be enhanced with more chairs and tables. The ones that were there “seem to get a lot of use,” she said.
Building on the “Music on Main” program, where musicians during summers have been able to set up and perform several days a week, the idea is to create a space that better lends itself to performancs, Falk said.
There will not be an elevated stage, she said, but “appropriate performance space” musicians can use, and can also be used for other gatherings.
There’s been “a lot of thinking” about the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce’s kiosk, which is no longer staffed and was outfitted with a “touch screen” earlier this year. Even unstaffed, various brochures are available there.
This and other questions are still up in the air, she said, pending Haas’ plan, which is expected before the end of the year so, if satisfactory, it might be implemented before the tourist season begins next Memorial Day weekend.
No public hearing is planned, she said, but “public input is part of the process.”
One non-negotiable is Santa’s Cottage, which will be put in place and occupied by Thanksgiving Weekend through Christmas Eve. Nothing will be done to hinder the traditional activities of the Jolly Old Elf during those weeks, Falk said.