Quarantine Rules Also Turn Off Some Families
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Health and wealth.
Those are the two concepts people in government and the tourist industry are using in discussing the news that the two youth-baseball camps, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and All Star Village in West Oneonta, are seeking permission to open someway, somehow, in the 2021 season.
“If they can conform to the state’s requirements and do it safely, they should be allowed to open,” said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. Others interviewed echoed her sentiment.
Dreams Park is planning to extend its season from May to September, with fewer players, who would stay on-campus, as in the past. (Early, it was incorrectly reported that the players would stay off-campus.)
All must present negative COVID tests on arrival. Dreams Park’s local lawyer, Gar Gozigian, is looking for state Health Department guidance and permission to proceed.
All Star Village issued a more general statement, saying it would implement all health and safety measures, and concluding, “As things change we are confident restrictions will expire and we will update.”
People who have spoken to Mike Walter, Dreams Park CFO, said he reports the company is simply waiting for Health Department approval of its concept to move forward.
State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, said he was contacted by Rick Amo, All Star Village proprietor Marty Patton’s property manager, which prompted the senator to write a letter to Governor Cuomo, noting that, since high school sports are starting up again, why not youth baseball camps.
“As you are aware, 2020 was disastrous for the tourism sector,” wrote Oberacker in a letter sent Feb. 8. He had received no reply as of this week.
Governor Cuomo did say Wednesday, Feb. 17, that he has given preliminary approval for summer camps, including day camps and sleepover camps. Final guidance will be forthcoming on how the camps can open.
“I asked if baseball camps are included, and they said yes,” said county board Chairman David Bliss, who participates in the Mohawk Valley Regional “control room,” the official conduit of COVID information from Albany.
But Cuomo said camps would not be allowed to open until June at the earliest, which would interfere with Dreams Park’s plans.
As he understands it, Bliss said, the baseball camps will have to present detailed plans to the county Health Department and Public Health Director Heidi Bond. As of Tuesday, he didn’t know if that has been done.
Another wrinkle is the state’s quarantine regulations: Travelers must be tested for COVID three days before arriving in New York State. On arrival, they must quarantine for three days. Then, they must obtain another COVID test and wait until the results are back before they can get out of quarantine.
“Parents are reaching out, trying to find ways to get around testing requirements,” which would require them to take an extra week’s vacation as part their trip, said Cassandra Harrington, director of Destination Marketing of Otsego County.
Meanwhile, restaurants and lodging that depend on the youth-baseball camps are accepting reservations, with the understanding they may have to return their deposits.
The desk manager at Holiday Inn Express, who identified himself only as Gregory R, said the Hartwick Seminary hotel is almost fully booked. However, the company accepts cancellations up to 48 hours before check-in, so what happens remains to be seen.
“Providing that people follow the rules put forward, and are tested before getting here, the feedback I’m getting from visitors who are booking with us is that they’re still excited,” said Sal Furnari, proprietor of Maskot’s Pizza & Grill, across Route 28 from the Dreams Park entrance.
But patrons are asking, “if the park cancelled the day before we get there, will we get our refund?”
At Cooperstown Stays, the foremost rental agent for Dreams Park families, proprietor Lunetta Swartout said, “because final payments were due March 1, some teams elected to back out, and get into tournaments in other parts of the country.”
It’s a shame, she said, because Dreams Park is considered the gold standard “by everybody,” she said.
“Coaches have told me, Cooperstown is the pinnacle of youth baseball. Why is that? Because they run a top-notch tournament. An immaculate, clean facility. And they provide a total experience for teams and families alike.”