ONEONTA – Bike trails, a candy shop, blade signs and more winter recreation were all suggestions made during the Comprehensive Plan committee’s open house in the CANO galleries at the Wilber Mansion earlier this evening.
“To build a good community, we need input from everyone,” said Ethan Gaddy, an Elan Planning community planner. “This sort of forum works because it’s a non-threatening way to make your voice heard without having to stand up in a meeting or fill out a form online.”
Visitors were asked to fill out Post-It Notes, mark on charts and fill out comment forms, all anonymously, to answer how they felt about certain ideas – short-term housing, new businesses the city should bring in, opportunity areas, pros and cons within the city and other suggestions.
“Foothills underutilized! B-Side! Music!” read one note.
Another noted that one of Oneonta’s strengths was “Youthful energy fostered by the college community.”
There was even a place for kids to write in crayon what they wanted to see downtown: “Candy Store”
“We should have interactive, public art,” said Dr. Nancy Kleniewski, SUNY Oneonta president, who served on the DRI Committee. “Something kids can play on. There were lots of votes for murals too.”
Short-term housing drew plenty of debate. “I don’t want to live next door to a motel,” wrote one. Below it, another note read “Yes, with appropriate enforcement.” On one note, someone wrote, “No!” and below it, someone else added “Yes!”
“These are the real people of Oneonta,” said Al Rubin, owner of A&D Taxi. “We need to figure out how to get people here and keep them, but it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a process.”
He praised Oneonta’s walkability and pedestrian-friendly streets, but said that a small percentage of tax-payers were on the hook for the city’s tax liability and that affordable housing was a problem.
But Second Ward Council member Michele Frazier, a real estate agent, said that she’s seeing a trend in home-buying that the city should consider. “I’ve sold a lot of homes to people who bring their jobs with them,” she said. “They want good schools and places where their kids can play, and we should market towards that.”
Gaddy will compile the feedback and, with the Comprehensive Plan Committee, will continue to develop the Comprehensive Plan with focus groups, a Facebook page and a website to continue soliciting feedback and comments. The Committee will bring a vision statement and preliminary recommendations to another public information session this summer.
“Now the work really starts,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We have to take hundreds of ideas, compile them to make a meaningful action plan and distill them into goals.”