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News of Otsego County

economic development

Our View: Move forward on housing in Cooperstown

Our View

Move forward on
housing in Cooperstown

One would like to believe that Cooperstown, once referred to as “America’s Favorite Hometown,” is a thriving, dynamic community.

A walk down Main Street in July or August, with crowds of people swarming the streets and shops, would suggest that it is indeed as billed. The same walk in January or February, with darkened, shuttered store fronts and empty parking spaces, would offer a very different impression.

When the remarkable increase in the country’s taste for baseball and its memorabilia in the late ’80s and ’90s dramatically altered Cooperstown’s Main Street, with baseball-themed shops largely established and managed by non-local proprietors replacing the mixed-use, community-based businesses run by local residents for 200 years, Cooperstown’s business district turned a very unfortunate corner.

With the advent of the “Cooperstown” baseball camps, located in Hartwick and Oneonta, people began to buy, convert and even build area housing to cash in on an extremely lucrative weekly summer rental market. That housing is in many cases owned by non-local, absentee landlords who make enough of a killing in the summer to allow them to sit vacant for the long off-season months. In a few years, the availability of housing in and around the Village became as hopeless as a Main Street parking space in summer.

BARCLAY: Celebrate Pot Legalization Now, Rue It Later
LETTER from DOUGH BARCLAY

Celebrate Pot Legalization

Now, Rue It Later

Though the Governor has already signed this legislation into law, I wanted to share my statement from earlier this week on the decision to legalize recreational marijuana:

Many are going to celebrate the passage of the ‘Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.’

But we didn’t solve any problems today, we only created new ones.

Democrats will claim victory, but they ignore the inherent dangers associated with their decision. Legalizing marijuana guarantees young people will have greater access to a drug they shouldn’t be anywhere near. The minute this becomes readily available, the safety risks in our communities and on our roadways will increase exponentially.

Forced COVID lockdowns drove New York to the edge of an economic cliff, and advocates for legalization seized the opportunity to push marijuana as a financial windfall. While this may eventually improve the state’s bottom line, it will come at the expense of public health and safety.

Doug Barclay,
R-Syracuse, is Assembly minority leader.

Otsego Electric’s Broadband: Entrepreneurism At Its Best

EDITORIAL

Otsego Electric’s Broadband:

Entrepreneurism At Its Best

Otsego Electric’s Broadband initiative wasn’t mentioned in last week’s editorial on entrepreneurism in arts organizations – it’s an electric cooperative, not a dance troupe.

Still, it’s worth a separate nod.

While local governments and the citizenry at large were crying out to Albany and Washington for universal Broadband, CEO Tim Johnson and the Hartwick-based, non-profit rural-electrification entity simply did it.

As reported last week, in the past three years, Otsego Electric has strung 700 miles of wire in the 23 towns it serves, past 5,000 locations; 2,900 subscribed to its high-speed Internet service.

It’s a non-profit, so why bother?

“We could see the handwriting on the wall,” said Johnson. “We could see … the lack of opportunities to work in rural areas. We saw the possibility that this” – Broadband – “would stabilize our customer base.”

And that’s what happened.

During the Pandemic Year, when the world moved onto Zoom, there could have been a mass exodus. There wasn’t, and there won’t be.

Thank you, Otsego Electric.

BUTTERMAN: ‘‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet On The Future For New York’s Citizens
LETTER from DAN BUTTERMANN

‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet
On The Future For New York’s Citizens

To the Editor:

The next New York State budget is on its way to passage, and with the federal stimulus of $12.6 billion it will not be as bad as projected. But there are still many problems ahead. Our state had a budget deficit before the pandemic, and a declining population, which the census will likely confirm later this year.

We must look for new ways to bring people back to New York. Without more people, our state will continue to suffer, and the problems will continue to grow. What is one way to bring people back?

More jobs!

How do we get more jobs? By investing strategically in the industries of the future, and we can do that without hurting businesses already here.

Green energy has dazzling potential. It is the industry with the fastest growing job basis in the country, and these jobs pay higher than average.

We need the energy too. New York has some of the highest utility rates in the country, and investment in green energy will lower energy costs, because the costs for renewable energy continue to go down.

Recognizing the value of green energy, the legislature passed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act in 2019. This bill outlined clear and achievable targets to increase renewable energy production, storage and energy infrastructure.

Plus, it recognized that many communities across New York have been left behind and disadvantaged economically, so it makes sure that large parts of the investment go to these communities.

Our region has been left behind by Albany for far too long. This bill may start to change that. Of course, the question comes up of how to pay for these upgrades. We cannot print money like the federal government, so the answer is the Climate & Community Investment Act.

This bill will set taxes and charges against those businesses that pollute the most. The revenue will be turned into direct reinvestment in our state.

I support this legislation because it answers the question of how to pay for a specific state program. It may not be a perfect bill, it should be debated, and that debate can certainly make it better.

The results of this bill will help our region, and for that we all have reason to support it.

DAN BUTTERMANN
Oneonta

Pot Shops Becoming Issue Here

Pot Shops Becoming Issue Here

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Mac Benton

Before reacting, the Village Board is waiting to see what the marijuana-legalization bill due to pass the state Legislature April 1 looks like.

But Trustee Mac Benton, who brought the issue before the trustees at their monthly meeting Monday, March 22, is determined to push for pot-selling “storefronts” in Baseball’s mecca, seeing it as an economic-development opportunity too good to ignore.

If the new law doesn’t give the village the authority to make the decision to sell or to manufacture marijuana products, Benton said he will encourage fellow trustees to urge the county Board of Representatives to allow the village to do so.

“It the decision goes to the county,” Benton said in a text, “I’ll urge my fellow trustees to sign onto a letter to the county strongly recommending that Otsego NOT opt out.”

According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, there are two bills now under consideration.

Here’s Evidence That The ARts Can Be Entrepreneurial, Too
EDITORIAL

Here’s Evidence That The Arts
Can Be Entrepreneurial, Too

When the going gets tough, the entrepreneurs get going.

At the first “Coffee With Coop,” Glimmerglass Festival’s Francesca Zambello outlines plans for the Andrew J. Martin-Weber Lawn Stage, which will ensure a robust 2021 season, despite COVID.

A corollary: The entrepreneurial spirit isn’t limited to entrepreneurs. (Per Merriam-Webster: “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so.”)

So it was telling to watch the Cooperstown Chamber’s first “Coffee With Coop” panel discussion via Zoom last Friday, March 19. Kudos to the Chamber, and Executive Director Tara Burke, who was also an adept emcee.

It was a little disheartening to hear a recitation of all the Hall of Fame cancellations, although the scope of its undertakings – an estimated 80,000 fans were expected at Derek Jeter’s Induction – make them particularly fraught, not to mention dangerous, in Time of COVID.

And yet, the entrepreneurial spirit lived in presentations by, first, Fenimore President/CEO Paul D’Ambrosio and then, in Glimmerglass Opera General & Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.

$7.4M Grant Fuels Broadband March

$7.4M Grant Fuels
Broadband March

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Customer as well as CEO, Tim Johnson, with wife Vicki, enjoy Broadband at their rural Edmeston home. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Hickling’s Fish Farm Inc. is exactly what Otsego Electric President/CEO Tim Johnson is talking about.

In tanks inside four sizeable modern buildings on Pitts Road near here, the Hicklings are growing 65-70,000 trout yearlings annually, and another 20-30,000 pounds of 2-year-old bass, which – a delicacy in Thai and other cultures – are sold to Asian markets in Boston and other East Coast cities.

“The big money we’re spending now is in technology,” said Darren Hickling, a civil engineer who operates the business with his parents, Vincent and Linda, a nephew and one of the nephew’s high-school buddies.

With the county’s outmigration, Hickling said he can’t expand his workforce even if he wanted to: There’s no one to hire.

“It” – Broadband – “was an economic-development initiative for us,” said Johnson, who had been outside legal counsel to Otsego Electric for 25 years before becoming the top executive in 2015.

As a 501(c)(12), Otsego Electric – a cooperative founded during the Depression, owned by members to serve members – Otsego Electric is prohibited from making profits.

Water Plant Done, Is One Greater Oneonta Inevitable?
EDITORIAL

Water Plant Done, Is One
Greater Oneonta Inevitable?

ONE-onta, the once and future city?

Bob Wood was dealt a winning hand when elected Oneonta town supervisor in 2008, and he played the hand well.

He announced his retirement last Friday, March 5 – 299 days to go until Dec. 31, he said – and expressed satisfaction that $12 million in projects – $3-plus million for a new town highway garage and $8-plus million for the long-awaited Southside water project – will be completed by the time he leaves office.

Of course, there are many other successes since 2008 that Bob Wood can point to – the expansion of the Browne Street (Ioxus, Northern Eagle Beverage) and Pony Farm commerce parks, the growth of All Star Village, Brooks BBQ’s bottling plant to be expanded and relocated in an East End shopping plaza.

But keeping the tax rate low – $10 per thousand for town, school, county and other property levies, as compared to $20 in the city – may be his foremost accomplishment. And that, arguably, led to everything else.

America IS Great
Editorial

America IS Great

Over Three Generations, Oneonta’s Naders Prove It

Jaunty Sam Nader, seen here in his heyday, was a great American.

With the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the summer-long riots following George Floyd’s death and debates over race relations, we can forget: We live in a great country, where ambition and hard work are almost assuredly rewarded.

A case in point – a life in point – is Sam Nader, the respected and beloved former mayor of Oneonta, who passed away Tuesday, Feb. 9, at age 101.

When Sam Nader was born in 1919 in Oneonta’s Sixth Ward, you might have thought his prospects were limited.

His parents, Elias and Rose, had married in the old country in 1907, and had come to America in hopes of a better life. He joined the Delaware & Hudson in 1911 as a stationary fireman, tending the fire that heated the boiler and created the steam to power the steam engine – hot, dirty work.

But young Sam’s boyhood in “the Beehive,” a six-apartment house on West Broadway, next to the busy, noisy D&H yards, didn’t weigh him down. Quite the opposite.

It launched a life of joys and accomplishment (and, of course, some tragedy, too), as he related in an anecdote-filled interview on his 100th birthday in his living room at 96 River St., when he spoke:

No Phone, No Internet Stymies So. Worcester Couple

No Phone, No Internet
Stymies So. Worcester Couple

By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

As Margaret Wolff waited during the recommended 15-minute observation period following her inoculation Saturday afternoon, Jan. 30, Rita Tetenes was at her home here.

Leo Tetenes serenades wife Rita with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” (Michael Forster Rothbart/AllOTSEGO.com)

Tetenes was not one of the lucky ones.

Although she and her husband Leo are in their 80s, they still live independently in a far, hilly corner of Otsego County. Schoharie County begins across the narrow valley from their home, and the Delaware county line is at the bottom of the hill.

“We have no computer at our home. We don’t have cell service. You need a satellite phone to make calls out here,” Tetenes said during a call from her house.

She has not used email since she retired four years ago, and does not know if her old flip phone can send text messages.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes, but it has to be via the phone. I heard about the clinic at Clark but I called and all the spots were already taken. We didn’t even have a chance,” she said.

“Every place that we’ve called, whoever we spoke to, they’ve all been extremely nice, but if they can’t help us, they give us another phone number,” Tetenes said. The bottom line is that “no one can help, at this point.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Virtual Tour Of Hamilton Exhibit 01-20-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20

Virtual Tour Of Hamilton Exhibit

14-19eventspagePRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION – 46th President Joe Biden to be inaugurated in Washington DC.

VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies’ with manager of arts education Kevin Gray. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org

City Hall Seeks $500,000 To Redo Oneonta Theatre

City Hall Seeks $500,000

To Redo Oneonta Theatre

By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The Oneonta Theatre has been on the market for five years.

City Hall will seek $500,000 in state funding to restore the Oneonta Theatre, the former movie house at 27 Chestnut St. that has been on the market and unused for five years.

Mayor Gary Herzig received Common Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday, Jan. 5, to seek the money through the state’s Main Street Anchor Program aimed at restoring vacant buildings.

While there is no time-frame for approval or construction, Herzig said the priority is stabilizing the building.

“The theater is not only beautiful and vintage, it is a glorious piece of Oneonta’s history,” he said. “If the building could not be restored, it would be a loss that would never be recovered.”

Plans for the restorations would include maintaining the building as a theater. “It would be a place to have a variety of performances, including live stage and film productions within the community,” Herzig said.

He added, “It would increase the quality of life of our residents and also provide an asset and attraction to visit and possibly even relocate to the area.”

“We’re off to the races,” Herzig said as the motion passed.

He plans to complete the application prior to the Jan. 15 deadline. While there is no time-frame for approval or construction, Herzig said the priority is stabilizing the building.

“The theater is not only beautiful and vintage, it is a glorious piece of Oneonta’s history,” he said. “If the building could not be restored, it would be a loss that would never be recovered.”

Plans for the restorations would include maintaining the building as a theater. “It would be a place to have a variety of performances, including live stage and film productions within the community,” Herzig said.

He added, “It would increase the quality of life of our residents and also provide an asset and attraction to visit and possibly even relocate to the area.”

“We’re off to the races,” Herzig said as the motion passed.

He plans to complete the application prior to the Jan. 15 deadline.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Virtual State Of The State 01-05-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, JANUARY 5

Virtual State Of The State

14-19eventspage

STATE OF THE STATE – 9 a.m. Hear from local leaders, business owners, elected representatives on our economic health and policies from a national, state and local perspective. Will feature keynote speaker Rep. Antonio Delgado. Free, pre-registration required for Zoom conference. Presented by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. 607-432-4500 or visit members.otsegocc.com/events/details/2021-state-of-the-state-virtual-meeting-with-keynote-antonio-delgado-404

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