City Council OKs
Nick’s Diner Plan
$230K CDBG Application Albany-Bound
By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The audience filled the seats and spilled out into the hallway as the Common Council again debated, then approved Nick’s Diner’s application for a $230,000 CDBG grant.
The vote enables Nick’s prospective owner Rodney Thorsland’s to submit the application to Albany for its approval.
Thorsland’s request has been hotly debated in the past three Common Council meetings, with several community members speaking against the proposed grant at the past two Common Council meetings.
“As a businessman who has invested one and a half million dollars of my own money in local business, I find it personally offensive that the city would even consider supporting giving a grant to a business that is not unique to the community in any way,” Dr. Eric Dohner, who operated New York Skin & Vein, said this evening.
“These 15 full-time equivalent jobs are only going to be minimum wage,” he said. “They’re not going to draw anybody to the city, and they’re not going to keep young people who are looking for a career in the city.”
Council member Michele Frazier, First Ward, was the only “nay” vote, expressing skepticism about the property’s appraisal.
“It has been noted in our email exchanges that, ‘Who are we to question a licensed appraiser in this situation?’” said Frazier. “But I would argue that we are in fact precisely the body that should be questioning those who bring an opinion to us when we’re spending taxpayers money to the tune of $230,000.”
Frazier said she sought out an appraisal instructor to learn more about the appraisal process, and concluded the Nick’s Diner appraisal was questionable.
“There is no income on the property, so the Albany appraisers utilized some rent discussions using a comparison of a restaurant on Wolf Road in Colonie, which is just absolutely asinine,” she said. “As a real-estate professional, I would never walk into that building and suggest a sales price of $550,000.”
While Frazier strongly opposed the grant application, the rest of the board did not share her sentiments. Council member Russ Southard said he sees the grant as an opportunity for Oneonta.
“If we say no tonight, you’re all going to read about some other city like Watertown getting this grant,” said Southard. “With the parameters of this specific grant, from job creation, to size of the city, to what he has to do, I don’t see how I can vote no for this.”
This is so wrong!! This is not what this block grant was designed to do. I have to agree with Eric Dohner 100 %…..if you want to start a business I am all for low interest loans to help with start up costs but not a gift of $230,000. Why is that money not going to fix up some of the buildings on the section of Main Street closer to River Street or put the money into the Armory and make that all usable space and a safer place in the city? Giving one person a gift of $230,000 off the backs of tax payers is wrong!