By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Affordable and available housing remains an issue in Otsego County in general, but particular issues have come up recently in both Cooperstown and Oneonta.
However, both areas are doing their part to amend this issue. Although there has been some backlash, elected officials acknowledge the necessity of creating affordable housing in the area.
A planned development at 10 Chestnut St. in Cooperstown is being considered by the village’s boards.
Francesca Zambello, who partnered with Josh Edmonds of Simple Integrity on the Chestnut Street project, described herself as a “concerned citizen” who was worried about the “really dire housing situation.” Zambello and Edmonds own three connecting lots and have formed their own company, not associated with Glimmerglass or Simple Integrity, to build on the site.
Zambello described the planned development as “elegant and stylish that will not only provide housing but also help the economy.”
“Certainly there are negative voices,” Zambello said. “There always are about change.”
Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said one of the problems with housing in Cooperstown was that a lot of rentals were short term rentals which “put pressure on affordable year round housing.
“People can make much more money on short terms rentals then they can with long term affordable housing,” Tillapaugh said.
Tillapaugh said the short-term rentals revolve around tourism and the baseball season, but the biggest employer in the area, Bassett Healthcare, had employees who, according to a survey she referenced, wanted to rent in the Cooperstown area but couldn’t, because there was none available or because they weren’t affordable.
“We really need workforce housing and affordable workforce housing,” Tillapaugh said. She said that that housing “was considered a priority for the village” as a part of the village’s 2016 comprehensive plan.
Oneonta, elected officials were echoing the same concerns as their counterparts in Cooperstown. There were two big housing news pieces in Oneonta: a planned development for artists’ lofts on Dietz Street and the announcement of a pending purchase of the Ford Building on Main Street by Springbrook in order to create affordable housing for working professionals not related to student housing.
Oneonta recently created a Housing Commission to work on the problem, which was also referenced its comprehensive plan.
In Cooperstown, the Chestnut project is going before the village’s various boards, with a public hearing for a special-use permit scheduled for Monday, June 28, at a venue big enough to hold the expected large crowd.