Cuomo Administration Delivers
Downtown Development Bonanza
By JIM KEVLIN & LIBBY CUDMORE • for www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Governor Cuomo couldn’t make it, called away from a City of the Hills appearance by a collapsing crane on the Tappan Zee Bridge project. But he sent the check.
$10 million. Howard Zemsky, Empire Development Corp. president, announced at 3:45 p.m. that Oneonta has won the special multi-million allocation earmarked for downtown redevelopment in the whole Mohawk Valley Economic Development Region.
In making the announcement, Zemsky said this city’s application – it was championed and fast-tracked in May by Mayor Gary Herzig, assisted by Otsego Now President Sandy Mathes and his staff – had it all: an affordable housing piece, a downtown strategy, an entertainment piece (in Foothills Performing Arts Center), and an overriding concept – the “food hub” initiative.
The crowd, a who’s who in Oneonta and Otsego County, which had been waiting since 2:30 for the governor, burst into wild applause. And when Zemsky said how much he enjoyed the cheers, the audience burst into wild applause again.
In the governor’s absence, Mayor Herzig emceed the announcement. “This doesn’t just happen by itself,” he told the crowd. “You earned this. You came together and made it happen.”
Herzig’s “Authentically Oneonta” proposal will be further detailed by Mathes to Common Council at 7 p.m. tonight. “We’re looking for Oneonta to become a destination for food, arts and hospitality,” he said. “It’s nice that the state recognized that.”
In preparing the application and deciding to go for the full $10 million, Herzig argued Oneonta is at a “tipping point,” and $10 million will make the difference.
The Oneonta stop was part of a swing through the region. The governor was in Binghamton this morning, announcing $100 million in additional money that would, among other things, bring Dick’s Sporting Goods headquarters, now in Coraopolis, Pa., back to the Southern Tier city where it was founded.
The crane collapse that caused Cuomo to miss the Oneonta stop resulted in five injuries as of the latest reports, but no fatalities so far.