Advertisement. Advertise with us

Manager Ticketed While the Housing Controversy Grows


The manager of the Town House Inn on Main Street in Oneonta was arrested and the city made a decisive move toward shutting down the lodging in an escalation of the ongoing controversy over emergency housing. Manager Premodh Vilakkupatthil, 43, turned himself in on Tuesday, September 5 after city police called him; he was issued a ticket for second-degree criminal nuisance. According to state law, a person is guilty of this misdemeanor offense when they knowingly or recklessly maintain conditions that endanger a number of people, or when they knowingly or recklessly maintain any premises where people gather to engage in unlawful conduct.

Town House Inn has been at the center of Oneonta’s emergency housing controversy. It was the site of a shooting incident on Thursday, August 31, when gunfire struck two vehicles in the parking lot. City Chief of Police Christopher Witzenburg reported a fatal overdose at the motel in recent weeks. There are currently about five Department of Social Services emergency housing clients at the inn. Town House sits on two parcels of land, owned by the Oneonta Masonic Lodge and by Alan G. John. The arrest comes just weeks after the Otsego County Board of Representatives approved an expanded DSS contract with Motel 88 on Chestnut Street in the face of reservations voiced by Common Councilmember Len Carson (R-5th Ward) and other city officials.

“We’ve had well over 400 police calls there in the last year,” Mayor Mark Drnek added.
He said that the city has initiated litigation with the inn and aims to shut it down. Drnek recently established the Council’s Safe Homes and Neighborhoods Committee in response to “growing community concerns regarding the related issues of the idle undomiciled and domiciled individuals who demonstrate in public their struggle with mental illness and drug addictions.” The committee is intended to holistically evaluate the causes and effects of Oneonta’s unhoused and underhoused population and to find lasting solutions. It includes Witzenburg, Carson, and Councilmembers Ed Overbey (unaffiliated-7th Ward) and Emily Falco (D-8th Ward).

“The closing of the Town House will be impactful, both on the committee’s work and on the community generally,” Drnek said in an email on Thursday, September 7. “While the removal of a problem property is a net positive, we will need to be aware of, and [plan further for] the impact that a displaced population may have.”

“The first of the Safe Homes and Neighborhoods Committee’s five points of action, the education and enlistment of the community in the enhancement of public safety, becomes even more of a priority,” Drnek continued. “The Police Department is already working on a one-hour course for the public that we’re calling ‘The Citizens’ Academy.’ We hope to roll that out in the next several weeks.”

Drnek has repeatedly expressed his opinion that emergency housing options outside city limits should be developed.

Vilakkupatthil was not held after the ticket was issued. He will be arraigned in city court on Thursday, September 28.



  1. I’m a little confused about the “reservations voiced by Common Councilmember…”. Are these reservations concerning the contract with Motel 88 or with the Town House Inn?
    Also, which one had over 400 police calls last year?
    Thank you.

    • The contract with Motel 88, but it was the same issue and Town House came up several times in his comment. Carson and Drnek both said 400 calls to Town House.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Oneonta Mayor Proposes New Committee

Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek discussed recent updates in the ongoing housing crisis at the Oneonta Common Council meeting on Tuesday, August 15. The County Board of Representatives recently approved a measure expanding existing contracts between the Department of Social Services and Oneonta hotels to provide emergency shelter for unhoused people.…

Oneonta’s First Pot Dispensary Opens

A line of local residents and visitors, young and old, stretched across the Main Street bridge in Oneonta as a thunderstorm threatened late in the afternoon of Saturday, August 12. The smiling, waving crowd was waiting for the clock to hit 4:20 p.m. and DOSHA, Oneonta’s first legal cannabis dispensary, to officially open. Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek, board and staff members of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, and military veterans mingled with employees and photographers before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.…

Putting the Community Back Into the Newspaper

Special Subscription Offer

Now through September 30, new annual subscribers to “The Freeman’s Journal” and have an opportunity to help their choice of one of four Otsego County Charitable organizations.

$5.00 of your subscription will be donated to the nonprofit of your choice:

Community Arts Network of Oneonta, Cooperstown Art Association, Helios Care or Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.