By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA — Housing and jobs remain high priorities for the city of Oneonta. Both are needed and, according to Mayor Gary Herzig, need to be gradually increased at the same time.
“You can’t have a thriving community, you can’t have a good economy, if you can’t provide people with good housing,” Herzig said.
According to Herzig, housing is “desperately” needed at all levels including low-income, middle-income and high-income.
One of the problems with housing in Oneonta is that it is hard to compete with student rentals if you are a family in need of rental housing.
Herzig said there are “not a lot of incentives” for familyrentals. “We have to be creative with what we do.”
However, there have been some steps taken on the housing front in Oneonta. Most notably, the artist lofts being created on Dietz Street and, more recently, the pending purchase of the Ford Building by Springbrook to create 22 to 24 market rate apartments, which Herzig called a “very exciting project” that he said was certain would be approved by the Common Council.
The Springbrook project goes to the city’s Planning Board, Wednesday, June 16.
Herzig stressed the necessity of such developments and emphasized the importance of change.
“Change is hard and change never affects everybody the same,” Herzig said. “However, times are always changing and without change, we’ll stagnate and the rest of the world will pass us by. The city recently created a housing commission to help solve its problems. The committee is tasked with finding innovating ways to solve the problem,” he said.
“We don’t have adequate housing for anyone of any income level,” Herzig said. “We need to do better by providing housing for all levels.”
Herzig said there is also a need to attract jobs to the area.
“Jobs and housing are two needs and you can’t build one without the other,” Herzig said.
One of the projects which has been in development for years was developing the Oneonta Railyards in order to attract high tech industries to Oneonta.
Much of Oneonta’s early history included housing developed in order to accommodate railroad workers, he said.
The bottom line for Herzig is to attract people to the town. He mentioned creating things in town that would make people happy, such as the new dog park in Neahwa Park being developed.
Marketing, is important, too, he said, selling the idea of Oneonta to people who might want to live there.
“We’re a small community that has all the advantages of low-density living,” Herzig said. “Arts, culture, and greater diversity than a town of our size. We have unique assets to offer. We need to focus on the day to day living that makes life better.”