News of Otsego County

City of Oneonta

Armory’s Future TBD By Oneontans

Armory’s Future TBD By Oneontans

Following a recent evaluation of the Asa C. Allison, Jr. Municipal Building, located on the corner of Academy Street and Fairview Street in Oneonta and colloquially known as “The Armory” in reference to its initial purpose, the city found it to be underutilized and in need of improvement. Therefore, city officials opted to hear opinions from its residents about the building’s future in a survey released in December.

To participate in the survey, click here:

SUNY Student Running for Common Council

SUNY Student Running
for Common Council


SUNY Oneonta political science major and Maryland, New York native Andrew Hamill announced his candidacy for Oneonta Common Council in December, running as a member of his own party, “Unity for Oneonta.” Hamill hopes to bring accountability and pragmatism to the council, vowing to lead with a spirit of compromise.

“We need Common Council members who are willing, and dedicated to reason and building a consensus with their constituents,” said Hamill. “As a candidate for the Council, I intend to work with my constituents by listening to their concerns about whatever they have to say and try to work on a consensus that can bring the people together.”

Hamill, who previously ran for town council in his hometown, detailed a vast array of issues on which he plans to campaign.

Snowfall Expected Thursday & Friday

Snowfall Expected Thursday & Friday

The US National weather service has issued a Winter Storm warning for Otsego County which is expected to last until 1 a.m. on Saturday. predicts that snow showers will begin at 4 p.m. this afternoon, Thursday, December 15.

The City of Oneonta has issued an advisory that they expect significant snowfall and residents are not to park on the streets after there have been 2 1/2 inches of snowfall. The city parking garage and municipal lots will be available to Oneonta residents starting at Noon, Thursday December 15. Any vehicle parked on the street in violation will be ticketed for $100.

The National weather service advises that the storm will bring heavy, wet snow with expected accumulation of between 9 and 15 inches. Wind gusts of 35 miles per hour are expected. Travel is expected to be difficult to impossible, if you must travel be sure to have and extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Update: The top level of the Oneonta Parking Garage will be closed from Thursday, December 15, through the end of the day on Wednesday, December 21.

Visit for updates from the city of Oneonta.

Also check for updates from the Otsego County Emergency Services.

What To Do About the Deer: An Ongoing Rural Debate

What To Do About the Deer:
An Ongoing Rural Debate


ONEONTA – The City of Oneonta’s Quality of Life and Infrastructure Committee recently heard findings from a commissioned report on the various impacts of increasing deer populations in the area. Carried out over two months, the Deer Management Task Force report named overabundance, Lyme disease and an increasing number of deer-related accidents as driving forces behind their investigation.

“Our goal is not to eliminate deer. It’s to reduce the population to a sustainable level and mitigate the problems surrounding the issue right now,” explained Betsy Holland, an Oneonta resident who led the special task force and presented at the meeting on Monday, November 28.

HAMILL: Hamill To Run for City Council Post
Letter from Andrew Hamill

Hamill To Run for City Council Post

Our elected officials, in their capacities, need to do more for their citizens while still maintaining a proper and modern budget that works with the people, help their citizens in any way they can, be held accountable to a higher standard, and remember that they answer to their constituents.

With that being said, I hereby announce my candidacy for councilman for the First Ward in the City of Oneonta. As your candidate for councilman, I firmly feel that we need to start to do more, not less, to help the people out in the City of Oneonta.

Andrew (A.J.) Hamill

City Receives Grant For Theatre Restoration

City Receives Grant For Theatre Restoration

The City of Oneonta has secured a $500,000.00 grant from New York State toward improvements to the historic Oneonta Theatre. The theatre’s pre-urban renewal marquee is pictured above. (Photo provided)

ONEONTA – The City of Oneonta has been awarded a $500,000.00 grant to assist in the stabilization of the historic Oneonta Theatre by Governor Kathy Hochul and the Housing Trust Fund Corporation.

The Oneonta Theatre opened in 1897 as a vaudeville house, and later as a cinema. Recently, the New York State Preservation League listed the Downtown Oneonta Historic District, including the Oneonta Theatre, on its 2022/23 list of “Seven to Save” historic resources.

To Barn or Not to Barn …

To Barn or Not to Barn …

By Helen K. B. Rees
Photo of original Swart-Wilcox barn. (Provided by Fanny Southard)

The Swart-Wilcox Barn Committee met on Monday, October 3 to discuss the possibility of a barn for the Swart-Wilcox House Museum complex. There had been a barn on the property from the 1790s until 1968. At that time it was burned down by the City as a fire-fighting exercise.

It is now felt that a barn would help tell the story of the early settlers, who were mainly farmers. Several factors have contributed to thoughts of a barn for the Swart-Wilcox farm property.

Finding an appropriate old barn, or building a new barn with the old floor plan, is the first decision.

Springbrook Closes Purchase of Historic Ford Block on Oneonta’s Main Street

Springbrook Closes Purchase
of Historic Ford Block on
Oneonta’s Main Street

Springbrook has finalized the purchase of the Ford Block buildings from 186 to 212 Main Street, Oneonta.

The nonprofit provider of supports and services to people with developmental disabilities will begin renovations in July of 2023. The $8.9 million project will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 24 affordable, market-rate residential units, with four units reserved as integrated housing for people receiving services from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

The building will be renamed “The Ford on Main.” Renovations will include the addition of an elevator to give residents access to Main and Water streets as well as improvements to the pass-through area from Main Street to the municipal parking lot on Water Street. Springbrook has funded the project through grants from the City of Oneonta and City of Oneonta Downtown Revitalization Initiative, an Empire State Development grant, Community Preservation Corporation funding, New York State Homes and Community Renewal financing, and the Berkshire Bank Historical Tax Credit, among other sources.

Regular construction updates will be posted on The Ford on Main website, As the project begins, the website will house architectural plans and a “contact us” option for community members who wish to share their perspective on the plans and renovation progress.

News from the Noteworthy: Battle Plans
News from the Noteworthy

Battle Plans

Lately, I find myself thinking about those generations past and especially the one dubbed the “greatest.”

How would they deal with this moment we’re in?

I think it’s a safe bet that many would step up and pitch in to support the effort.

That’s what much of a generation did in the 1940s. And I am betting on their descendants, in this 2022 version of Oneonta, doing that again.

This time, it’s not the forces of an army that threaten us, but the gloomy reality of a post-pandemic world. Where a decades-long demographic shift — an exodus from the city, the town, the county, the state, and the northeast — coupled with an equally challenging worker shortage, has put us very much at risk.

Parking Garage Upper & Lower Level Closure Announced

Parking Garage Upper & Lower
Level Closure Announced

The City of Oneonta has announced that on Wednesday, September 28, the upper and lower levels of the Main Street Parking Garage will be closed to all traffic.

Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. a contractor will be working on installing structural repairs to some of the support members next to the upper level down ramp. Any cars remaining in this area of the middle level will be towed and cars on the upper and lower level will not be able to exit until after 3:30 p.m. Regular parking restrictions will not be enforced on the middle level for the duration of construction.

The closure is set to be in effect through 3:30 p.m. Thursday and tentatively on Friday.

Visit to view the full announcement.

6th Ward Receives Proclamation

6th Ward Receives Proclamation

L to R: Assemblyman John Salka, Frank Russo

The 6th Ward Booster Club Playground was recognized over the weekend with a proclamation presented by Assemblyman John Salka.

Organized by Bill Shue (former Alderman), founding members, families and neighbors, there was a gathering at the 6th Ward Booster Club Playground Pavilion on Scramling Avenue in Oneonta.

“We are recognizing the 75 years of commitment to the community of Oneonta,” Mr. Salka said. “We present this proclamation to Frank Russo, President of the 6th Ward Booster Club Playground.

New Neawha trail

Susquehanna Greenway, Foundation team up for trail upgrade

Future for Oneonta Foundation Chairman Alan Cleinman previews the project as paving begins

Neahwa Park adds another attraction with a June 16 groundbreaking for updates to the Mill Race segment of the popular Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway – a transformational project that will see the section paved and accessible and, supporters hope, an attraction for residents and would-be residents alike.

The new paved trail will connect Neawha Park, Catella Park, and the trails available on New Island – a “critical link,” said OSG’s Donna Vogler. “It’s gratifying to see this section paved and accessible to all.”

A $50,000 grant from the Future for Oneonta Foundation kickstarted the project, an improvement in the City of Oneonta’s Comprehensive Plan since 2000. The FOF donation proved crucial to the 2022 upgrade.

“This has been one of my dreams for a long time,” said Alan Cleinman, the newly-installed chairman of the Future for Oneonta Foundation. “Making this accessible to everyone is so important.”

Greater Oneonta Historical Society to unveil new exhibit at Grand Reopening

Greater Oneonta Historical Society
to unveil new exhibit at Grand Reopening

On Friday, May 13, 2022, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society (GOHS) will reopen the doors to its History Center at 183 Main Street in the heart of downtown Oneonta. The reopening follows a four-month closure for renovations to the first floor, including updates to the walls, floors, and lighting.

At the grand reopening, GOHS will unveil Small Community, Big Ideas: Greater Oneonta, a new exhibition exploring the history of the town and city of Oneonta, New York. The exhibit will include modern, interactive, and digital features and a variety of different, formerly unseen objects from GOHS’s object and archival collections.

“Small Community, Big Ideas will feature five chronological modules, each shedding light on the everyday people, places, and events that have shaped the town and city of Oneonta over the past three centuries,” Dr. Marcela Micucci, GOHS Executive Director said. “It will tell the stories of how Natives, settlers, immigrants, and residents created a community, and how they built and rebuilt Oneonta to become a destination city — one that was adaptable and evolved with the changing geography, economy, culture, and society.”

YMCA’s summer programming on track, but ‘different’ this year

YMCA’s summer programming
on track, but ‘different’ this year

Staffing challenges notwithstanding, Oneonta’s YMCA and the City of Oneonta will partner again this year to provide summer programming and services for area youth eager for activity.

“The Y’s core mission is to find solutions to community problems,” said YMCA Executive Director Frank Russo. “This summer, like every summer before it, we will work to the best of our capabilities to provide whatever services we can.”

“We will offer our summer programs in some way, shape, or form,” he said. “I like to say it will be ‘similar but different.’ We intend to have the swimming pool operating. The community is very quick to be worried that there will be nothing to do this summer, but that’s not the case. That’s not to say that we don’t need employees and volunteers — we’re just like any business facing a shortage these days.”

“This is not a money issue for us,” he said, noting the Oneonta Y’s competitive wages and opportunities. “We’re losing some of our past collaborative partners because their own programs have suffered. Everybody is feeling the pinch.”

In his online Weekly Report for April 16, Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek addressed the need for volunteers who can keep city programs alive.

Editorial: ‘The Big Need’


‘The Big Need’

 April 21, 2022

What better time than the middle of National Volunteer Week (April 17 – 24) to take the time to salute every person who gives their time — truly our most precious commodity — to help others.

The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta receives a few dozen press releases each week from community groups of every stripe throughout Otsego County — organizations looking out for the environment, preserving open spaces, grooming hiking trails. Groups dedicated to keeping political discourse at a civil level, encouraging citizens to vote and participate in democracy. Programs to feed the hungry, help the homeless, save and protect animals. Perform for and promote local arts and artists, help out in the schools, decorate village streets for holidays, coach Little League and soccer and basketball.

And almost as an aside, such announcements usually include some semblance of this proud statement: “[insert name] is an all-volunteer organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.”

Board of Education, town, and village governments, too, run on volunteer steam: these board members, supervisors, mayors, trustees, legislators, committee members, and appointees aren’t in it for the big paycheck. We’re humbled when imagining the amount of time and dedication these volunteers devote to a sometimes thankless task, serving a public that can be quick to judge and criticize yet take for granted the day-to-day quality of life that these volunteers make possible.

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