Require Masks On Main Street, Trustee Declares


Require Masks

On Main Street,

Trustee Declares

Sternberg Says ‘Punitive Steps’ Required;

Trustees OK ‘Masks On Main’ Promotion

At today’s special meeting of the Village Board today are Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, top left. Trustee Richard Sternberg is at center.  Clockwise from upper right are Trustees Cindy Falk, Joe Membrino, Jim Dean and Jeanne Dewey.  Trustee MacGuire Benton was absent.  (From Youtube video)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – This morning’s special Village Board meeting, called to approve a “Cooperstown Outdoors” promotion and “Masks on Main” signage, spun off into a larger discussion of the need for masks, with Trustee Richard Sternberg calling for “punitive measures” against people not wearing masks.

“I certainly think we need to go – just like Texas happens to be going – to mandatory masks outdoors,” he said. “Sorry, I don’t like all these tourists coming here, thinking they’re on vacation from the constraints of COVID, and just walking around without masks just like they own the place.”

While Sternberg didn’t carry the day, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch said she will fast-track the placement of a banner across Main Street (between Key Bank and Sal’s) that encourages mask-wearing. (It has already arrived, but was waiting for the “Congratulations CCS Class of 2020” to be taken down.)

Tillapaugh said she’s been getting comments about masks, along the lines of “I saw people without masks in Lakefront Park, and there were several of them together.”

The problem is you can’t immediately tell if they’re family members.  “At least you can see them,” she said, “and the park is big enough for social distancing.”

Main Street may be more of an issue.  “We only say, keep 5 foot of sidewalk clear.  So, right off the bat, we aren’t providing that 6 feet.  So it’s critical masks be used on Main.”

The “Masks on Main” signage, which she and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk developed, will put magnets on meters and trash can, and posters are on order to allow any merchant who wishes to put one in shop windows.

Other trustees had things to say about the matter:

  • Jim Dean suggested large signs be place an entrances to the village, so all visitors would be aware of the village’s safety recommendations.
  • Joe Membrino, who lives nearby, said Fish Road, often busy with kayakers and boaters getting their crafts in and out of Otsego Lake, need mask-wearing encouragements – at least “admonitory.” He said, “There should be a little more ‘edge’ to the message.”

Sternberg said he will continue to push for more.  “You know my opinion on this:  Doctor Fauci says unless we have 95 percent of the people out there wearing masks, we aren’t going to be able to control this things.”

He continued, “Municipalities do have the right to set their own rules, and do have the right to enforce them. I know we’re going to have difficulty enforcing them. But it’s not impossible.”

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