Albert L. Colone was born July 8, 1944 in Oneonta the son of the late Ani Pasquale and Eva Gloria (Jerome) Colone.
He grew up on River Street, in his beloved 6th Ward, playing sandlot sports and generally tormenting the Wilcox’s and others with his older brother, Frank. Albert ultimately ended up a life-long resident of 6th Ward and helped to establish the 6th Ward Athletic Club and served as the Club’s first President.
Albert graduated from Oneonta High School in 1962 and would later go on to proudly serve his country in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968, when he was honorably discharged. It was during his time in the Army that he re-kindled his childhood love of drumming and percussion and attributed that musical background to extending his life from that point forward. His volunteer position as battalion drummer and later, percussionist for the Second Armored Division Band, kept him on post at Ford Hood, TX, when many of his peers left for and never returned from the war in Vietnam. With this to consider, it is easy to understand his passion for music and the importance of it throughout his life. There is no doubt that Albert had a rhythm and a beat that was all his own.
Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has Albert Colone, founding president of the former National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, musing about the immigrant experience, when times were REALLY tough. This is the first of two columns on the immigrant experience of his grandparents, Frank and Lucia (Valentini) Colone.
COVID-19, which hit America hard starting in early 2020, turned our worlds upside down. I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since early February 2020 on my last visit with them. So here we are hunkered down, adhering to the virus protocols, playing it safe and staying healthy.
So, what do you do to maintain your sanity?
I reflect on stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of my ancestors to understand the struggles they plowed through in their lives.
Remember, they were handicapped by not having all of today’s quality-of-life assets, no cell phones, computers, the luxuries of travel from automobiles to airplanes, prepared foods, safe housing, money and all of assets that we enjoy, and perhaps take for granted, today.
Do you hear where I’m going with this? Let me share with you some of the storied struggles of the early lives of my grandfather and grandmother.
A couple of weeks ago, Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal published my opinion piece, once again trying to promote the idea of consolidating the city and town of Oneonta. I submitted it to try and generate some meaningful debate on the issue. Surprisingly, the only subsequent reference I’ve seen was an unsigned comment in another paper. How can
Whoever submitted that comment, thank you for the notation “will someone gently remind Al Colone” that his longtime advocacy for merging was riding a “dead horse.” The word “gently” has become increasingly important as I’ve aged.
On the importance of consolidation, it was not only something which should have been done 10 years ago as the writer notes; it was seriously discussed some 50 years ago. Too bad, had it happened we would have been a much better Oneonta than what we have now.
The writer suggested the biggest hindrance against merging was in the notion the city has been looking to absorb the town to share the town’s prosperity. What prosperity?
The town’s once proud retail sector is and has been gradually evaporating, starting long before the virus; a prosperous Oneonta would have had Southside water 10 years ago, as well East End sewer; while they both have substandard housing, the towns’ neighborhood deterioration is far worse than that of the city and; the median household income of both are consistent with the poverty levels within Appalachia! What prosperity?
But the main reason for my letter was in trying to urge local leaders to move on consolidation before the state does it for us through a plan to “Re-imagine Upstate” and other issue “re-imagining; like our Upstate Education Systems!” It’s going to happen; neither the state nor federal Governments will be able to financially sustain the current over-kill of local governments.
We’ll likely see more County and regional consolidation. Townships are truly nonessential; they are inefficient! They don’t lead and are virtually obsolete. Upstate governance would function much better without them, positively supporting the quest for real prosperity.
I hope this letter has brought greater clarity to my views on the matter! Good wishes!!
No municipality should extend its services beyond its boundary lines!” That was the opening statement made by Wade Beltramo, general counsel for the New York Conference of Mayors inside the City Council Chambers on March 28, 2017.
The general counsel was invited by the City of Oneonta to give a presentation on municipal annexation.
I bring it up in that the last edition of your newspaper was loaded with extremely positive articles, most surrounding the
commercial promise of expanded downtown market-rate housing. We’d all love to see that!
With all the positive articles, the one which caught my eye, the one which I believe would have the greatest impact on growing the Oneonta economy was the article on extending the City sewer line from the city/town boundary line out to Oneonta Plaza to facilitate a possible move by the Brooks BBQ sauce-bottling plant into that mall. A great idea! To me it was the singular article that would do the most good for Oneonta.
But, recall the words of Counsel Beltramo, “No municipality should extend its services beyond its boundary lines!” So, I would strongly suggest the city agree to extend its sewer line to serve all of the area along Route 7 all the way to the Price Chopper Mall or beyond, conditioned on the town working with affected property owners to secure agreements to be annexed into the city.
The town does not own a sewage treatment system of its own, so if the town is to provide sewer to the Oneonta Plaza and/or points to the east, the town supervisor and the town board have to strike an agreement with the city.
So rather than pontificating through the local media about extended sewer services into the town, something the town can’t do on its own, Town Supervisor Bob Wood and other town leaders should immediately negotiate with Mayor Herzig and city leaders. If sewerage is to be extended into the town, it’s not a town decision, but rather the city’s. Let’s face it, the city has supplied a variety of public services into the town, with little if nothing in return; in the 1950s, city water was extended to the West End, where the city continues to pay taxes to the town of about $70,000 a year ($40,000 in property taxes on the land at the watershed and $30,000 per annum for the water infrastructure into the West End).
In the early 2000s, the city extended its sewer system to the Southside business district to help mitigate its ongoing fresh-water contamination issues; add to that, the city underwrites the largest local share of the costs for a public bus system that extends into the town, as well the city pays $70,000 every year to promote travel to the area where most of the motor inn/restaurant/retail beneficiaries are located in the town.
So, as you can see, the city has had a big heart in assisting the town over the many years; all the while the town got richer at the expense of the city. Not too smart! That trend needs to change, NOW!
Supervisor Wood would do well to see the wisdom in supporting the common good and agree to an arrangement, where the city extends sewer services into the East End and in working hard towards securing properties served to be annexed into the city.
The city might be wise to also agree to extending public safety and others valued services out that way; where perhaps a 20-year prorated property tax structure could be established to fund the service program, making it practical financially for all concerned.
If he hasn’t already done so, Supervisor Wood should immediately meet with Mayor Herzig to put this all important issue on the table. The town can’t do the project without the leadership of the city, so move on with extension of sewer services to the Town’s East End with the provision the affected area be annexed into the city. And while they’re at it, consider the same action on Oneida Street, out through the West End to the multi-acre vacant lot between Routes 7 and 205. The area’s economy would get a very positive jolt in growing city/town commerce. The city needs to start acting on every issue that comes its way, evaluating them all based on what’s best for city coffers and with highest consideration for the taxpayers of the city!
Two Oneonta governments are unsustainable!
The City of Oneonta has been designated the fifth poorest city in New York State! It’s a real depressing condition that has gradually emerged over a couple of generation.
Though the city is not alone in local poverty, likewise families within the entire surrounding area have been on a sinking ship into poverty, too – when in fact we should be one of the wealthiest small urban markets in the entire state!
Who’s at fault? Typically, local folks blame Albany and in some cases, D.C. However, the leading candidates for our ever-increasing poverty is the Town of Oneonta, which has had a multi-generational opposition to consolidate with the city.
And who are the losers? Town residents for having to live in an “Appalachia-like” community, city residents of course, and indeed all people who live within our outlying little towns and villages.
The town’s continued selfish stubbornness is costing the immediate Greater Oneonta area somewhere between $5 to 7.5 million annually (maybe more) in new public revenue; that’s at least $50-75 million over 10 years.
One united City of Oneonta, a much wealthier
Oneonta, would finally be able to do the things it currently can’t.
Like moving aggressively on the Downtown DRI. Like completing the Southside water project. We could plan and work as one in the upgrade of local energy and infrastructure matters. And in the common development of the former D&H Railyards.
The consolidation solution would also generate the respect of state, national and private-sector business leaders, everywhere, private investors far more willing to invest here.
Nope, the town leaders must all believe it’s better to keep our area community and it’s people in a perpetual state of economic weakness and poverty.
Town taxpayers and voters should be up in arms against a failed public vision and leadership.
And county government? Instead of investing in the City of Oneonta, the county’s most important municipality, they pass off to the city every initiative to make the place even poorer, while annually squirreling away sales and lodging tax revenue to support keeping countywide property taxes artificially low.
The County has the good fortune of generating three times more in sales taxes than it does from property tax revenue. Instead of committing some of those county resources to invest annually in a build-up of Oneonta area economic and tourism development, likely unbeknownst to County leaders, they are actually blindly shortchanging their own treasury by stifling expanded commerce in Oneonta. Call it benign neglect!
For the sake of turning the corner on Upstate poverty, the State of New York needs to immediately legislate expanded incentives to force more municipal consolidations, while in the same legislation imposing limits on the percentages of sales tax revenues New York counties can apply to their general funds!