Cites FOIL Requests, Council-Member Absences
By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Citing Freedom of Information Law requests which had yet to be fulfilled, and the absence of three Council members, Mayor Gary Herzig pulled a resolution from the agenda to approve a $230,000 Community Development Block Grant for Nick’s Diner at this evening’s Common Council meeting.
“In respect to people who have submitted FOIL requests and have not received them yet, and in consideration of the Council members who are not present tonight, and to allow Council members to digest some of the comments that were made, I’m going to remove the item from tonight’s agenda,” said Herzig. “I will reschedule it when people have received their FOIL requests and once all of the OtesOtCouncil members have had an opportunity to consider the comments.”
Herzig’s decision came as a surprise, even to himself; he said he only made the decision after hearing the public’s comments.
The proposed CDBG application has been hotly debated in Oneonta, with some coming out in support of applicant Rodney Thorsland’s request, while others have outspokenly opposed it, saying that the $230,000 is too much to give to a prospective small business start-up.
Otsego Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Ann Heegan spoke in favor of the grant: “I am here to support our member, Nick’s Diner, who is investing in Oneonta by reopening a business with a 90-year history in this community. It is part of (the chamber’s) mission to continually improve the overall business climate in the region and to strive for an atmosphere that attracts investment to build a positive, forward thinking business community.”
But accountant Johna Peachin took a contrary view: “The metrics here would suggest that if you have 15 full-time employees, that would suggest a $385,000 to $400,000 payroll, annually. Metrics of a restaurant say that should be about 30 percent of your sales. The costs for the restaurant would be another 30 percent, which would then suggest that they would be over a million dollars in sales at Nick’s Diner. I don’t know of a restaurant of that size in Oneonta that can produce those types of numbers. That’s one main concern that I see as the restaurant not being sustainable.”
While the motion was not voted on at tonight’s meeting. Herzig believes it will reappear at the next Common Council meeting on July 17, where he hopes it will come to a vote.