‘Grassy Apron’ Posed For Doubleday Entry

By JIM KEVLIN•The Freeman’s Journal

Edition of Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

A “grassy apron” leading fans from Main Street to the doors of Doubleday Field, where asphalt is now.

A extended walkway along Lakefront Park’s waterfront, and a pier extending 100 feet into James Fenimore Cooper’s Glimmerglass.

An “iconic building” in the Delaware Otsego Corp. parking lot, facing east, luring tourists up Main Street.
These were some of the concepts Elan Planning Founding Principal Lisa Nagle sketched out for 50 returnees Wednesday, Oct. 8, in the CCS cafeteria, based on inputs 90 people had offered two days before.

“You all love Cooperstown,” she said by way of introduction to the second day of a two-part “Design Charrette,” aimed at tapping local folks visions for a better community. “It’s in your souls. It’s in your hearts.

In the 48 hours between the two sessions, the planners got to work.

Having learned Monday the 6th that local folks consider Doubleday Field a major “icon” and “destination,” Elan‘s planners suggested that, instead of dodging cars pulling in and out of parking spaces, fans and tourists could stroll up to the “Home of Baseball” on a 12-foot-wide walkway lined by a grassy strip where youngsters (and not-so-youngsters) might be tossing a ball back and forth.

To the west, where the village’s Chestnut Street lot and Vinnie Russo’s private parking lot are now, perhaps there would be a parking deck, low-slung and landscaped, replacing the 30 spaces that would be eaten up by the “green apron” and adding many more.

“It was interesting to hear a lot of different thoughts,” said Mayor Jeff Katz in an interview, “from people who see interesting prospects and exciting possibilities that I agree with.”

In presenting the concepts, Nagle emphasized the presentation was initial. Further discussion, market data, discussions with private property owners and more will be needed before anything become concrete.

The Doubleday piece was perhaps the most dramatic of a number of ideas the Elan team presented in four areas of interest.

All of the ideas, with related maps, drawings and charts, have been posted on a website, coopplan.wordpress.com, which will be updated throughout the development of a revised Comprehensive Master Plan, which will go through 2015 if funded by a state CFA grant. Governor Cuomo is expected to announce the next round of grants this week.
Other highlights included:

• Intersections. The planners said it’s certainly time to look at Chestnut Street’s corners with Walnut/Price Chopper, Beaver and Elm – the Barton & Loguidice engineering firm is already working on a design for Chestnut and Main. Nagle’s partner in Elan Planning, Jere Tatich, proposed more dramatic street markings to give a clearer message to drivers and pedestrians alike, and suggested push-button signals to more safely navigate walkers across the wider stretches.

• Lakefront Park. Using photos taken after the Monday meeting, the planners showed how the entry wall at Lake Street and various trees and shrubs block the lake’s view from any distance.

• Railroad Avenue. They suggested the “iconic building” could contain shops and offices on the first two floors and housing on the third and fourth. The idea is to put buildings closer to the streets – Railroad, upper Main and Grove – and put parking, and perhaps senior-citizen housing behind it. Another idea is to perhaps reactivate the rail line, for commuters and, in the summer, to ease entry of Dreams Park families into the village.

In the Q&A that followed, Vinnie Russo, who is also proprietor of Mickey’s Place, encouraged Nagle to make sure one of the “stakeholders’ meetings” being organized includes downtown business people. She said that is the intent.

The planning process is a collaboration between the Village Board and county IDA. So far, the village has contributed $1,700 and the IDA $27,000 to the effort.