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50 Neighbors

Uniting To Fight

Housing Project

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Fran Colone convened the meeting of 50 neighbors to organize against the RSS project proposed for the Sixth Ward. “There are multiple bad reasons for the project,” Colone said. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – Christened “Sixth Ward Neighbors United,” River Street residents and businesspeople met for more than two hours with  city, county and state elected officials at the Sixth Ward Athletic Club Thursday evening  to discuss strategies to oppose RSS’s housing development in their neighborhood.

“There are multiple bad reasons for RSS’s project,” said Fran Colone, a vocal critic of the housing development proposal since last October. “So, we’re turning up the heat and upping our activities.”

“It is bad for Oneonta’s economy, it’s bad in terms of energy services – Oneonta is already energy-strapped; it’s going to increase demand for services here.  Oneonta’s fire department is already understaffed,” Colone said.

“And it doesn’t fit into the neighborhood,” he added.

RSS first revealed its Riverside Apartments plan, which will include 14 units for people undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse, at the city Planning Commission meeting last Oct. 17.   The Sixth Ward had only found out about the proposal two weeks before that, and packed a commission meeting to oppose it.

Because of the outcry, Mayor Gary Herzig removed RSS’s proposal from Common Council’s Nov. 6 meeting agenda because he “felt there wasn’t significant opportunity for public input.” Subsequently, Herzig wrote Governor Cuomo to inform him of the city’s opposition to RSS’s housing project.

RSS did not respond today to a request for comment.

Elected officials – Sixth Ward Council membe, Russ Southard; its county board representative, Danny Lapin, and Assemblyman John Salka – attended tthe meeting and spoke against the housing project as well.

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, was unable to attend – he is in Albany in state budget negotiations that culminate April 1 – but he wrote his opposition in a letter to the state Department of Homes & Community Renewal, Colone and Lapin said

Lapin hurried back from a work-related trip to Delaware to make the Thursday meeting in time to share views he wrote about in a Letter to the Editor in this week’s Hometown Oneonta. (“RSS Housing Project Not Right for Oneonta.”)

“I encouraged residents to organize and to provide multiple comments on record, and to demand transparency from RSS,” Lapin said.

He has invited the Neighbors United group’s members to do just that at the next Otsego County Board meeting, April 3.

“RSS’s lack of outreach from the beginning was strange and didn’t inspire confidence,” Lapin said.




  1. First let me say that there is a definite need for well planned re-hab facilities for those suffering from addiction both from the civilian and veterans sector. I ask, Is this the best location to provide a healthy and productive envioronment for those who are afflicted? Is this the only location being considered ? I hope not, how about considering one of the wonderful large non-operating farms throughout Otsego County and develop the infrastructure needed to for these participants? Many of the partipants could be hired to maintain the opperation others could opt to pursue jobs in the surrounding communities.

    Would this not provide better theraputic outcomes by living and working in a clean, healthy enviornment…heck perhaps the plan could include the possibilty to provide a farming area, to employ those who may want to work in a farming environment, to produce food to sell to folks in the city and surrounding areas.

    I hope this isn’t being influenced by the business and commercial entities looking to expand their customer base at the expense of both future and current residents,

    As to the rail yard, clean it up mitigate the pollutants, if any, develop for green space as a trade off for new development in a rural area. Just some thoughts!

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