By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The county Board of Representatives heard a message this morning: Prepared to be sued.
First, Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham appeared at the county board’s monthly meeting with a letter, prepared by Attorney Doug Zamelis of Springfield Center, demanding it withdraw a grant application for a gas decompression plant in the Town of Oneonta.
Column by Adrian Kuzminski,
Friday, September 21, 2018
Let’s Build On
Not Unsustainable Liabilities
Otsego County needs a new direction for energy and economic development. An important step to that end was taken last week when the county board’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee endorsed the idea of setting up an energy and economic development task force.
Kudos to them! A county-wide task force would give us two things we don’t have now: long-term economic planning and a wide range of interests and expertise systematically participating in local decision-making.
We’re increasingly recognizing how vulnerable we are. We depend on long supply lines for food, energy and necessities. As climate change accelerates, those supply lines become less reliable.
We read, almost daily, of one disaster after another regionally, nationally, and internationally: mega-hurricanes, severe droughts, enormous wildfires, melting polar ice, mass extinctions, etc.
No place is immune from climate change, not even Otsego County. Nonetheless, our quiet corner of the planet looks more and more like a refuge compared to many in other places, and that may be our greatest asset.
In fact, climate change may have some advantages for us: milder winters, a longer growing season, plenty of water.
We may be more resilient as well – thanks to a lower population density – than overdeveloped areas, including coastal cities in the South and drought-prone regions in the West, which now bear much of the brunt of climate change.
We need an economic plan that builds on sustainable assets, not on unsustainable liabilities.
Our sustainable assets include, above all, an uncrowded, serene, clean, safe, attractive and relatively stable environment – something increasingly rare in a world of accelerating climate change.
We have an underutilized rural base, including agriculture, forestry and the potential of value-added products. Farming has not recovered from the death-blow to the dairy industry, it’s true, but if local boutique and organic farmers had more financial support and better distribution systems, they could be more competitive and develop new local products.
We have a high-quality health care system, and we often forget it is our major industry. Even so, it has yet to realize its full potential as a magnet for medical and nursing care.
Bassett Healthcare, as an integrated medical system, provides a superior level of care that could be coupled with additional facilities for assisted living. An aging population will demand it, and we could supply it.
We have, in Oneonta, institutions of higher learning that could be further developed and better folded into the community. Curriculum innovation and more partnerships between the colleges and local institutions and businesses – after the model of the Hartwick College nursing program – could make it possible for more students to stay on in our communities after graduation, as we see in other college and university towns.
Tourism has become the main interface between Otsego county and the world. Our cultural attractions – events, concerts, festivals, galleries, and museums – could be expanded even further. But tourism works only insofar as the powerful symbiosis between our cultural assets and the historical aura and natural beauty of the area is maintained.
Tourism needs to be kept proportional and diversified, so as not to overwhelm the fabric of local life.
And, perhaps most important of all, we have a steady in-migration of people looking for second homes, or retirement living, or the opportunity to conduct internet-related businesses and raise families in a new setting, away from the urban madness.
These new immigrants are attracted by the natural assets they find here, as well as good schools, good healthcare, a lively cultural scene, and a vibrant civic life worth being a part of.
They want sustainability, which we can offer, in contrast to the increasingly unsustainable systems they’re looking to escape.
If I were to make an optimistic prediction about the future of our communities in response to the growing ecological and economic crises, I would look to a synthesis of high-tech internet with a rural, family-oriented lifestyle.
Such a synthesis would realize participation in the global economy with the virtues of small town and country living.
If this is to be our future, if these are the people we want to attract, then we need universal broadband to sustain the economy, as well as renewable energy to preserve a clean and beautiful local environment.
That’s where our investments ought to be going.
Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.
COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 9
EDUCATION: B.A. University of Illinois, J.D. Northwestern School of Law
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Law, Small Business Owner
- Board president, Otsego 2000 (sponsor of Glimmerglass Film Days, Otsego Outdoors, and the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market)
- Volunteer legal services for Susquehanna Animal Shelter
- Aceing Autism (Board member and coach for children with autism)
FAMILY: Married to Gaylord Dillingham, four daughters, five grandchildren
PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:
Government should serve and protect its residents, encourage economic growth, control public spending, and make sure all sectors share in services such as Broadband, good schools, and clean air and water.
MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY:
Poor management, blocked decision making, inability to work with State agencies to secure needed grants, high property taxes, lack of creativity in anticipating and solving problems.
Integrity. Leadership. Strong advocacy skills. I prefer bi-partisan cooperation with a focus on working together to protect and grow our communities.
My opponent is a 12-year incumbent who has shown a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of our community. He was pro fracking, pro use of fracking waste as a road deicer (which leads to water contamination through run-off), and pro taking of private property by eminent domain for pipelines. At the same time, he was against strengthening Home Rule, against the Land Bank which helps eliminate blighted properties, and is against controls on dangerous CNG trucks on our undivided state roads. District 9 also has the lowest level of proposed infrastructure projects pending before Otsego Now. This record shows disdain for the assets which now exist in our region and are our path to a successful future.
I have the energy and experience to bring about positive change in my District and at County through advocacy for programs and grants available through State agencies. We must support our existing businesses and farms, protect the clean air and water we are lucky to enjoy, make sure our roads are safe for our citizens, and protect our many historic assets which are valuable now and will be even more valuable in the future. I will put my experience as a lawyer and an advocate to work for Richfield, Springfield and the County.
OTSEGO 2000 PRESERVATION AWARDS
SPRINGFIELD CENTER – For its ongoing restoration of 22 Main, the Village of Cooperstown was among honorees at Otsego 2000’s annual Historic Preservation Awards presentation and reception yesterday evening at the renovated Chapin Chapel here.
Accepting the honor on the village’s behalf were Mayor Jeff Katz and Trustees Jim Dean and Cindy Falk.