Mayor Herzig Would Be ‘Surprised’
If State Funds River Street Project
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Bill Shue doesn’t see the Sixth Ward’s fight against housing developer RSS as a strictly Sixth Ward issue.
“If this can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” he said. “It can happen in Center City or on the East End.”
The Sixth Ward Neighbors United, which has vocally opposed Rehabilitation Support Services’ proposed 64-unit housing project at River and Duane streets, met tonight at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club, the first meeting since speaking at the Otsego County Board of Representatives’ April 3 meeting.
County Rep Danny Lapin, District 5, was in attendance, as was Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, and Mayor Gary Herzig.
“These projects cannot be done in the dark,” said Lapin. “We will not be railroaded. We need a clear say.”
According to Herzig, the tax-credit application was submitted by RSS to the state – against his recommendation – with an announcement due by mid-May on whether or not the project is funded. “If they don’t get the tax credits, the project ends here,” he said. “If they do, they have to come before the (city) Planning Commission, which will decide whether or not they approve of the project.”
Planning Commission meetings are public, said Herzig, and he invited the community to attend and make comments on the record. “There’s not a lot we can do until then,” he said. “But I’ll be surprised if they do get funded.”
Similarly, Salka encouraged his constituents to reach out and let him know their thoughts. “I may be able to find a state agency that I might be able to communicate with,” he said. “And I’ll put a bug in Senator Seward’s ear too,” referring to Jim Seward, Oneonta’s state senator.
He continued, “I believe in low-income housing in the right place. A project like this is a double-edged sword. Many of the people in this housing are seniors and we want to protect them, but we don’t want to step on the toes of people concerned about their property values.”
But many of the two dozen at the meeting walked away with a sign for their yard. “We don’t just want to see these in the Sixth Ward,” said Shue. “We want to see them all over the city.”