THE TARGET: RSS PROPOSAL
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.