ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig this evening announced the City of Oneonta will be submitting an application by the 4 p.m. deadline next Tuesday seeking the whole $10 million Governor Cuomo has designated for downtown redevelopment in the Mohawk Valley.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the League of Women Voters, Oneonta chapter, Herzig said the City of the Hills “has been pushing a boulder up a hill … When you get to the top, it only takes a little push to get it over the top.”
Oneonta is at “a tipping point,” he said.
The $10 million, he said, is that little push, all that Oneonta needs to move dramatically forward, to leverage private investment to address the city’s two key needs: more good-paying jobs and sufficient housing, now lacking “at every income level.”
Welcome, Induction attendees! Will there really be more than a record-breaking 84,000 of us? Excitement.
If you’re been here before, look around: You will see many changes and improvements to Cooperstown’s downtown that have occurred since the last record-setter, when Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn set the record for attendance in 2008.
If you came then, you might be astonished by what you see now. Then, all the sidewalks were cracked. Main Street needed paving. The whole downtown had a bit of a well-worn sense about it – endearing, yes, but still…
Beginning in 2012, that began to change quickly.
Now-Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch remembers being a bit nonplussed at her first Village Board budget meeting after being elected a trustees in March 2011.
“The budget wasn’t balancing very well,” she recalled the other day. “There was a big surplus in the Water Fund, and $400,000 had to be shifted from Water into the General Fund” just to stay even.
“That was maintenance level,” she said.
The next year, the village trustees made a decision after the most angrily debated local issue in decades: In the face of a sharply divided electorate, they voted to extend paid parking to all downtown streets between Labor Day Weekend and Columbus Day Weekend.
Almost immediately, Village Hall’s financial picture brightened.
The first year, paid parking added $250,000 to the $5 million village budget, and that’s continued to grow in the years since to $400,000 in the fiscal year that ended May 31. Village taxes haven’t gone up in five years.
At the same time, a freshman Village Trustee (now Deputy Mayor) Cindy Falk, began developing prowess in grantsmanship. Successes soon followed:
In 2013-14, a $600,000 state Green Innovation Grant paid for “rain gardens” around newly planted trees. In part, the idea was to slow runoff into Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna River. The first brick sidewalks were also installed.
About the same time, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $2.2 million for downtown enhancements, from repaving, to sidewalks, to redone and new lampposts (with LED lights), to street furniture, on Main but also on Pioneer.
The final step will come this fall: Narrowing the Main and Chestnut intersection, adding walk/don’t walk signs, and generally making it less scary to pedestrians. (If you’ve tried to cross there, you know what we mean.)
Local money, $1.2 million, was used for more routine projects, albeit important: the replacing of water lines and sewerage under Pioneer Street dating back to the 1880s.
A $5.8 million renovation of historic Doubleday Field, the symbolic – if not actual – Birthplace of Baseball is now underway. Go and take a look.
In all, Falk estimates $10-15 million has been spent to make this village of 1,769 people more welcoming to a half-million visitors a year.
Throughout this period, now-retired Trustee Lou Allstadt led the charge on upgrading the historic Village Hall. Stop by and take a look, and stop by the library and Cooperstown Art Association gallery while you’re at it.
No one has a ready tally of all this. $5 million. $10 million. Maybe more. Whatever, a lot for a village of
There’s more still to come, particularly at Pioneer Park (Main and Pioneer), where initial work – a bike rack and water found – has already begun.
A stage is planned against the Tunnicliff Inn side wall for the popular “Music on Main” programs during the summer. Brick pavers will add handicapped accessibility. And landscape – a London plane tree and birches – will be added, three lampposts and new furniture.
“We all recognized new sources of revenues were needed, and aggressive grant application, to take care of infrastructure that was just going to deteriorate,” Tillapaugh said, who was fully involved in all of this as deputy mayor to Jeff Katz, who retired from office a year ago April 1, and now as mayor herself.
She also pointed out that merging village court into Otsego Town Court, and repositioning the municipal library as a school-district library, paid for by a separate levy, further helped the village’s financial picture.
The free-wheeling nature of the 2008 Ripken-Gwynn weekend is no more. Everywhere you’ll see high-security measures: from temporary iron fences to such additions as $4,000 trash cans that can be locked during the Legends of Baseball parade Saturday evening. You’ll also notice a much greater police presence.
Regrettably, that’s the nature of our post-9/11 world, intensified after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It can’t be helped for now; maybe in a better world to come. We can at least be assured that state-of-the-art measures are in place to ensure the security of the at-least 84,001 of us this weekend.
Enjoy – the Induction of Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Harold Baines and Lee Smith will likely be one for the record book. In beautified downtown Cooperstown this weekend, we may be participating in history.
COOPERSTOWN – How did Otsego County go from a prospective $5 million surplus with last year’s sale of Otsego Manor to a $9 million budget gap?
The question is being raised as county representatives prepare the 2016 budget.
According to County Treasurer Dan Crowell, the surplus never materialized.
It evaporated when Otsego Manor legacy costs proved to be $1.8 million, sales-tax collections declined because of cheaper gas prices and an increase in online sales, and the cost of the emergency tower communication system currently being built was factored in.
Then when department heads submitted their wish lists for the 2016 budget, the county was facing a $9.2 million gap – Manor legacy cost, continuing sales-tax shortfalls, and the towers driving the gap.
Eighty million native people of color lived in the Americas in 1492; 65 million primarily white people lived in Europe; 46 million people of color lived in Africa.
In December of that year, Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island of Haiti, which he then named Hispaniola, or Little Spain. It was the first recorded contact between Europeans and the indigenous Americans who called themselves the Taino. The Taino were divided into five kingdoms around the large island, and their estimated population ranged from 1 million up to 3 million.
The exact number of Taino people at first contact can never be known, but it is known that after 50 years of massacre, disease, forced digging in gold mines and being enslaved and shipped to other islands to work plantations, the Taino population was reduced to 500 people. The Taino then disappeared from the face of the earth. The first genocide in America by Europeans was complete.
Over the first century and a half after Columbus’ voyages, the native population of the Americas fell by an estimated 90 percent, from an estimated 80 million in 1492 to 8 million in 1650. While a majority of the deaths were caused by outbreaks of Old World diseases, many millions were also killed by the European invaders.
A second genocide visited on native Americans was well under way. It arguably continues today in Brazilian rain forests and on American Indian reservations.
From 1500 to the end of the slave trade in 1860, at least 12 million Africans were abducted and taken to the Americas. It’s estimated that an additional 1.5 to 2 million died during the ocean passage. About 500,000 slaves went to North America, while the majority went to South America and the Caribbean. Still, by 1850 there were 4 million Africans in the United States. Of the 4 million only 10 percent were free and 3.6 million were enslaved. In 1850, the 4 million made up 17 percent of the total U.S. population of 23 million, but they constituted over 37 percent of the population of the South.
The American Civil War abolished slavery and gave new freedoms to one sixth of the population. If the nation had moved on from there, honoring the rights of all people of all colors, we would live in a much different world today. But it didn’t work that way. Reconstruction lasted from 1863 to 1877, when it fell apart under heavy pressure and constant attacks by Southern Whites. The Democrats of the time were the party of White supremacy and they used every tool to diminish Blacks.
Economic pressure, governmental pressure, social pressure, intimidation, threats and violence were the norm. Lynching andother forms of murder were common. A third genocide continued.
A key part of the post-Reconstruction repression of black Americans was the use of white government forces — be they sheriffs, policemen, guardsmen, or judges – to visit daily and deadly violence on black citizen. Whites creating the violence went unpunished. (Does this sound eerily familiar?)
After the end of Reconstruction, lynching intensified. Lynching involved criminal accusations, often false, against a black citizen, an arrest, and the assembly of a lynch mob intent on subverting the judicial process.
Victims would be seized and subjected to every imaginable manner of physical torment, with the torture usually ending with being hung from a tree and set on fire. More often than not victims would then be dismembered. It’s hard to imagine human beings committing such vile and cruel acts against other human beings.
Over 4,000 people were lynched in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950. The vast majority were Black. That was over one lynching a week for 73 years. All in a nation that declared itself dedicated to liberty and justice for all.
Today, black Americans make up about 13 per cent of our population, but are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Typically, 30 per cent of black victims are unarmed compared to 19 percent of White victims. Finally, 99 per cent of all black killings by police are not prosecuted by the legal system. Only the most egregious videos seem capable of forcing police to punish their own, and then often only after protests and demonstrations.
Since 2015, American police have killed over 1,000 people every year, with over one third being people of color. It appears that institutionalized dehumanization of these people, be they black, Hispanic, or Native American, encourages the police to pull the trigger quicker. As a culture, white European-descended Americans have always dehumanized and demonized others. We have always slaughtered others for their land, their gold and silver, and finally, just because they don’t look like us.
Larry Bennett, recently retired Brewery Ommegang creative director who is active in local causes, lives in East Merideth.
Energy, Track and Classroom Space A Priority, Says Yelich
ONEONTA – New boilers, turf for the athletic fields and a completely new design of the arts, music, technology and family sciences classrooms are just part of a $22 million dollar upgrade to be put before the voters on May 16.
“So many projects we do are inside the walls, where no one can see them,” said Superintendent Joseph Yelich during a special Board of Education meeting called tonight at the former Center Street School. “But so many of these projects will really change the feel of the whole school.”
Among the most significant of the 48 proposed projects is the $1.8 million upgrade to art, music, technology and family sciences classroom spaces in the middle and high school. “Right now, so much of what we have is tucked in little closets and notches done in an aftermath effort,” said Yelich. “But this will give up state-of-the-art classrooms with the ability to offer 3D printing, animation and media spaces, blueprint drawing. These are tangible classroom benefits.”
ONEONTA — SUNY Oneonta’s Science One building will be named the “Janet R. Perna Science Building” in recognition of a distinguished alumna who has announced that she will give $5 million to the College at Oneonta Foundation.
The SUNY Board of Trustees approved the new name at its meeting today, making the action official in accordance with the SUNY Naming Opportunities Policy and Procedure.
“Since graduating from SUNY Oneonta, Janet Perna has remained committed to the campus, helping promote its academic excellence and supportive environment for students,” SUNY Chairman of the Board H. Carl McCall said Thursday. “She continues to generously give her time and financial support. It is my pleasure to help recognize her many contributions today.”
ONEONTA – Governor Cuomo couldn’t make it, called away from a City of the Hills appearance by a collapsing crane on the Tappan Zee Bridge project. But he sent the check.
$10 million. Howard Zemsky, Empire Development Corp. president, announced at 3:45 p.m. that Oneonta has won the special multi-million allocation earmarked for downtown redevelopment in the whole Mohawk Valley Economic Development Region.
In making the announcement, Zemsky said this city’s application – it was championed and fast-tracked in May by Mayor Gary Herzig, assisted by Otsego Now President Sandy Mathes and his staff – had it all: an affordable housing piece, a downtown strategy, an entertainment piece (in Foothills Performing Arts Center), and an overriding concept – the “food hub” initiative.
ONEONTA – Hartwick College today announced it has fulfilled the “It’s Personal” pledge made Friday, May 10, 2013, completing its $32 million fundraising “Campaign for Hartwick Students” and surpassing it by $2.7 million. It was the largest fundraising campaign in the college’s 219-year history.
“We achieved our goal of improving the student experience to an even greater degree than we originally thought possible,” said President Margaret L. Drugovich.
“Because of the generosity of so many, Hartwick College is a stronger, more competitive, more supportive, more welcoming, and more accessible place for students to discover the wonder of their future.”
Overall, 9,719 donors supported The Campaign, including 4,248 alumni; 2,370 parents; 1,219 friends and community members; and 603 corporations, foundations, and organizations. More than 250 employees and more than 1,000 Hartwick students also made gifts to this campaign.
By ADRIAN KUZMINSKI • Special to wwww.AllOTSEGO.com
At the January 2019 Otsego County Energy Summit in Cooperstown, sponsored by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, a NYSEG representative surprised many present by announcing that the utility was planning to rebuild and expand the DeRuyter pipeline, which brings natural gas to Oneonta.
In a subsequent report, filed with the Public Service Commission on March 15, NYSEG states, with regard to the DeRuyter pipeline, that it “will replace approximately 50 miles of 8-inch and 10-inch 298 psig-coated steel gas transmission gas mains with 12-inch main in several phases.”
COOPERSTOWN – Saying he has no “black magic” to fix it, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles has advised the county Board of Representatives it is facing a $12 million gap in the upcoming 2020 budget.
“I hear every year that Dan (Ruffles predecessor, Dan Crowell) used to work his ‘black magic,’ and always reduced the budget somehow last second,” said Ruffles in an email from the Horn of Africa, where he is on assignment with the Army Reserve. “There is no magic: We will be using the fund balance to help offset this gap.”
However, county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said a budget working group has already reduced that to $7-8 million, and he’s aiming to produce a budget that will be under the 2 percent state-mandated budget cap.
Editor’s Note: This is the full written testimony submitted to the House Natural Resources Committee after Paula DiPerna of Coopertown, a CDP-North America special adviser, testified on Feb. 6 in Washington D.C. on the growing prowess of renewables in energy-related investments. A longtime local resident, DiPerna ran for Congress in 1992 for the district that included Otsego County.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today on climate change and the recognition of its economic importance among businesses, investors, and consumers—all, of course, constituents. No doubt the CDP Platform has a touch point with all the states represented here on the Committee and I thank you for your service to the nation.
OTEGO – As it begins to prepare its 2017-18 budget, the Unatego Central School District has discovered an accounting error has left it almost $1.5 million short of where it thought it was on its finances.
Superintendent of School David Richards said today that a review of Unatego finances released last night found that as a result of a non-cash accounting error in 2010, compounded by expenditures made following that error which assumed the funding was available, has left the school district with a $1.484 million shortfall as it prepares to develop the 2017-18 school budget. This is a huge error that will leave the school with a huge financial burden; had the school been in contact with a more professional and efficient accounting firm, like the Accountants in Windsor, this perhaps wouldn’t have happened and would have the school in a good place in terms of money. Should the finance team at the school have kept up to date with technology advancements in the accounting sector, such as looking into comparisons of wave vs quickbooks as well as other bookkeeping tools, they might have been able to spot this accounting error within one of these new tools and possibly rectified the issue before it became a problem for their 2017-18 budget.
This shortfall came to light as the district’s new Shared Business Official was closing out paperwork related to the district’s $15.8 million capital project from 2010. She discovered that there was a significant amount of funding shown as due to the General Fund from Debt Service in the both the current year’s budget as well as in previously audited financial statements.