Approved By Trustees, Mandate
May Be In Effect This Weekend
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Inn at Cooperstown proprietor Marc Kingsley started things off with a pointed critique of the Village of Cooperstown’s proposed mask-mandate law.
“You are focusing only on mask wearing and an absolutely obscene fine if caught not wearing one,” he declared at the Monday, Aug. 10, public hearing in a steamy third-floor ballroom at Village Hall. “Instead, why aren’t we focusing on the positives, what we’re already doing to keep locals and visiting guests safe.
But “jacta alea esto,” as the Romans would say – the die was cast. A meeting’s end, the trustees voted unanimously for “Proposed Local Law 7: Requiring use of face masks and face coverings.”
The law will go into effect, perhaps by the weekend: All is required is for the ordinance to be filed with the New York Secretary of State’s office. Then, people must wear masks on Main between Fair and Pine Boulevard, and on Pioneer between Lake and Church, or face a fine up to $1,000.
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch began the 5 p.m. hearing reviewing an unusually large numbers of letters and emails received prior to a public hearing: There was 33 missives in favor (representing 38 people), and only four against.
In Cooperstown, the pro-letters included some heavy hitters.
Hall of Fame President Tim Mead and Board Chairman Jane Forbes Clark wrote: “We strongly endorse this recommended policy … It is incumbent upon the leadership of this community, and the residency of this village, to institute and follow safety policies protecting each of us and our guests.”
Bassett Hospital President Bill LeCates wrote: “I applaud your efforts to improve mask use and raise awareness of the risks of COVID-19 infection within the village.”
Eight residents spoke.
Jan Howard, who owns Cooperstown Classics with husband Todd, said she walks her dog late at night and early in the morning and runs into no one. “Do I have to wear a mask at midnight?” she asked. Tillapaugh said officers will use their judgment.
Robert Nelson, Fair Street, said, “I don’t know how, with the size of the police department we have, how this this going to be enforced.” He said there are no officers on duty after 5 p.m.
Doubleday Café co-proprietor Barbara Boulanger said, “I don’t think it’s right for someone who doesn’t know the village to be fined $1,000.” It should be $35, “like a traffic ticket.” The mayor said enforcement is not going to be “gotcha. It’s going to be an educational process.”
“You cannot be too careful,” said retired Bassett COO Bertine McKenna. “I’d like to commend you.”
Others favoring the law included businesspeople like Marge Landers, White House Inn proprietor; John Rudy of the Baseball B&B, and Neil Weiller of Muskrat Hill.
Inputs over, Trustee Richard Sternberg made the motion; MacGuire Benton seconded it and, after brief remarks, all seven board members cast aye votes.