ONEONTA — COVID numbers for SUNY Oneonta have steadily improved with more students getting the vaccine.
Danielle McMullen, chief of staff at SUNY Oneonta, reported to the Common Council on Tuesday, Sept. 21, that 94% of students had at least one dose of the vaccine while 88% are fully vaccinated.
McMullen said SUNY Oneonta was doing “really well, when compared to other SUNY schools,” and credited the “strong messaging campaign” with the rising numbers of vaccinated students.
“Students came back to campus really wanting that in-person, robust experience,” McMullen said. There was a “spike (in COVID cases) that we anticipated” McMullen said who spoke of the erroneous notion that the vaccine is a “silver bullet” but they took a look at “a lot of data points including students social activity” and were able to make determinations on how they could improve their response.
McMullen called it a “testament of our campus coming together” and “being honest with the local community.”
About 250 people attended a rally Sunday, May 2, at the Otsego County Courthouse, to support the community’s Asian American and Pacific Island residents.
The “Otsego Rally for Solidarity with Asian Americans” was organized and run by a group of Cooperstown Central School freshmen, including 15-year-old Cate Bohler, who said she wanted to speak up to support her friends or anyone who is being harassed.
“As a young Asian-American girl, hearing people call COVID the China virus is hurtful,” Bohler said, reading from her prepared statement about why she wanted to stage the rally. “It is more than hurtful. It is harmful. It perpetuates anti-American sentiments and racism.”
Speakers included the students, as well as local officials, including Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri, Otsego Town Supervisor Meg Kiernan and Otsego County Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, who said he thinks he is the county’s only elected official of Asian descent. Lapin’s mom is Japanese.
“The deep-seated nature of systemic racism requires us to make continuous choices and take continuous actions to advance anti-racist ideas in the public space,” Lapin said.
In response to the rising number of hate crimes directed at Asian Americans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, local teens are planing a Solidarity Rally for Sunday, May 2, according to a media release.
Otsego Solidarity Rally for Asian Americans will be held at 2 p.m. in front of the Otsego County Courthouse at 197 Main Street.
May is Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage month, according to the release.
Students involved in organizing the rally have created a window display at 149 Main Street, Cooperstown, to highlight the history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The exhibit will be on view throughout the month of May.
Cate Bohler, one of the 15-year-olds, said in the release, “I want to organize this rally to see how people come together to fight against racial injustice. My biggest goal is to help people become aware, educate them about things they might not know about. The rally is a starting point for action.”
Speakers will include Otsego County Board of Supervisors Danny Lapin and Meg Kiernan and Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh.
Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.
One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.
The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.
Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.
Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.
I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.
So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.
As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.
ONEONTA – When Danny Lapin ran for the county Board of Representatives in 2017, “My wife was very supportive.”
Lapin, a newcomer to the City of Oneonta, excelled in door-to-door campaigning, and that fall the untested young Democrat, then 28, pulled off what many considered an upset against Len Carson, a retired OFD captain and commander of the American Legion.
Now, after four years serving District 13 (Wards 5-6), he’s expressing his appreciation to wife Lindy and son Raphie by stepping down from the county board at the end of the year to devote more time to his family life. When the deadline for petitions passed yesterday, many were surprised to find that Lapin wasn’t on the candidates’ list.
MINI LESSON – Noon. Take 10 minutes to learn a skill, craft, or lesson. This week, learn about Iroquois Women in Leadership with Brenda LaForme. Presented By The Iroquois Indian Museum. Visit www.facebook.com/iroquoismuseum/ for info.
COOPERSTOWN – If Onondaga County got a special dispensation from Governor Cuomo to open its car dealerships, why shouldn’t Otsego County?
That’s the question the Otsego County board wants answered by the time it next meets at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 20.
Acting on a suggestion by Republican Oneonta City Council member Len Carson, his county rep, Democrat Danny Lapin, today championed his constituent: “If Onondaga got a special dispensation, let’s see what they did. Maybe it could apply to us.”
This is a question I’ve heard and asked nearly every day since I moved to the City of the Hills in mid-2015. Answers vary but they usually fall within three categories: more people, fewer storefront vacancies, and more stuff to do.
In 2017, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million award through Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The intent of the DRI was to spur development downtown by revitalizing the Market Street Corridor, improving the connectivity of downtown walkways, restoring upper-floor housing, improving building facades, and improving downtown’s marketability.
Since the announcement of the DRI, downtown Oneonta has seen nearly $2 million awarded to local businesses and property owners, one mixed-use housing project approved with another being proposed, the launch of a new marketing campaign, and the purchase of the abandoned car dealership on Market Street.
With all the positive momentum flowing through the city, I would argue that it is time to think about how to sustain it moving forward. After all, it is not every day that the city can get a $10 million boost.
Sustaining the positive momentum will require three things:
1) The ability to identify and make small bets that yield a high return;
2) The ability to coordinate marketing and branding efforts; and
3) A steady revenue stream which can be readily reinvested Downtown.
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) represent one possible way to make this happen. BIDs are city-designated districts where property owners and businesses direct funding to improve the vibrancy of a commercial corridor.
BIDs are complicated quasi-governmental organizations typically led by an executive director. The executive director is overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of downtown stakeholders. Funding for BIDs come from a special assessment billed to property owners, which is decided by the BID’s Board of Directors.
BIDs can undertake a wide range of activities, ranging from streetscape beautification, to trash cleanup and snow removal, to security, to marketing and branding. Ultimately, the decision of what to do is left up to the BID’s Board of Directors.
It can be argued that Downtown Oneonta has all the pieces in place for a BID.
Otsego County’s one-stop shop for economic development is located at 189 Main St. There’s an energized city government and staff. Destination Oneonta coordinates marketing for its members and hosts events. And the buzz of redevelopment has reached the ears of many downtown property owners.
BIDs can empower downtown entities to coordinate with one another, decide how monies should be invested, and have the skin in the game necessary to encourage strong decision making.
BIDs have been implemented successfully in communities of varying sizes nationwide ranging from smaller municipalities like Hyannis, Mass., to a large metropolis like New York City. However, BIDs, on their own, are not a surefire key to downtown success. The public must be given the opportunity to weigh in on the services the BID could provide. Administration of the BID must not hinder the delivery of services. Outcomes achieved by the BID must be tracked, verified and reported on.
The completion of the DRI will lead to a more vibrant, resilient downtown. As we look longterm, past Common Council terms and economic upswings and downturns, Oneonta will need the services of a BID or equivalent organization to make targeted investments that make our community a great place to live, work and play.
COOPERSTOWN – Three decades of striving ended today as the Otsego County Board of Representatives, 11-2-1, created the position of county executive.
In a half-hour of give and take, it was clear that, despite and lopsided vote, starkly contrasting outlooks remain.
“You talk about planning,” said county Rep. Keith McCarty, R-East Springfield, and longest-serving board member. “You can’t plan when you’re going to get a flood. You can’t plan when a bridge is going to go out. You can’t plan when a road washes out – we’ve had two of them on the east side of Otsego Lake. You deal with it.”
Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, who is finishing his first term, took on the rebuttal: “Our talents are hamstrung by a lack of coordination, a lack of planning, a lack of overall coordination.
ONEONTA – The county’s Energy Task Force aims to impact state and regional energy policy in the coming months, according to discussions in its meeting last night.
“We’re planning to have a representative from DEC speak about the New York Climate Consumer Protection Act,” said Danny Lapin, an Energy Task Force member and county rep. “How DEC will implement its components of the legislation, how that will affect Otsego County, and other questions.
ONEONTA – While the big tasks are still ahead for the Otsego County Energy Task Force, Barbara Ann Heegan, Otsego County Chamber president and chair of the Economic Development sub-group of the county’s Energy Task Force, is making sure that small businesses and the public can learn what they can do on the local level.
“We will be hosting a talk on ‘Understanding Energy Usage In Your Small Business: How to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs With An Energy Study’ from the Green Jobs, Green New York energy study,” she told the task force and public gathered for their second meeting this evening in Oneonta’s Town Hall. “We want to keep networking and keep these connections strong.”
The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be given by Michelle Wooddell, program coordinator for Green Jobs, Green New York at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8 at the Northern Eagle Beverage Center.
ONEONTA – In response to the formation of “Sixth Ward Neighbors United,” LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal said there are “misconceptions” about the proposed Rehabilitation & Support Services housing development and the 14 units set aside for people in addiction recovery.
“Those people get to move into those units because they have engaged in a treatment or recovery provider to qualify for housing,” she said. “They have already made a life decision toward getting better.”