COOPERSTOWN – Ahead of his democratic primary debate against Corey Mosher, Assembly candidate Dan Buttermann has received endorsements from Mayor Jeff Katz and current Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh for the 121st Assembly District seat.
“I’ve known Dan for years,” said Katz. “He’s a great listener, engaged and active, and a thoughtful person. More than that, he’s a good and decent man, exactly the kind of person we need in the Assembly. I fully endorse Dan Buttermann for Assembly in the 121st District.”
COOPERSTOWN – “Personally, for me, The Sandlot Kid, in a place of prominence,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch when asked about the most meaningful part of the $5-million-plus redevelopment of Doubleday Field. “He’s so special.”
Victor Salvatore’s bronze sculpture of a barefoot farm boy with a bat on his shoulder was installed in 1939, when the Doubleday Field grandstand was completed. “One of the true icons of the game,” the Dickson Baseball Dictionary calls it.
The mayor recalled her dismay in the 1990s when renovation around the statue made it look like it belonged to adjacent Key Bank, not the village and the baseball community everywhere. “He was fenced off and not given the space he deserved,” she said.
Now, it’s been moved to the center of the main, brick-covered walkway from Main Street to the grandstand entrance, to inspire and be admired by hundreds of thousands of fans heading into Classics and Hall of Fame award ceremonies in the years ahead.
“My favorite part is the grandstand piece,” said Trustee and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, a CGP historic preservationist who walks her dogs daily through the construction site. “We found ways to make this really fantastic structure increasingly accessible. Most of the stuff from that era is slipping away. We found a way to highlight it and keep it functional.”
“It looks beautiful,” said former mayor Jeff Katz; the planning began in his administration. He cited the new archway, the prospective informational signage, the pedestrian walkway, The Sandlot Kid.
“Those are just a handful of things that people said could never get fixed – they’ve gotten fixed, and they are continuing to be fixed,” said Katz, a baseball writer who is also president of the Friends of Doubleday, a private fundraising entity.
The rethinking of the Doubleday parking lot and renovation of the 1939 grandstand was supposed to be finished by last Friday, May 15. But with the COVID-19 threat cancelling the May 17 Hall of Fame Classic game, the urgency dissipated. The mayor says the work will now wrap up in mid-June.
Also remaining is the redevelopment of the third-base bleachers. When the 1950s-era cement seats were removed last year, the soil beneath was too soft to support and bleachers, rest rooms, offices and pavilion planned there.
Delaware Engineers and Saratoga Associates, a landscaping firm, are now conducting “value engineering” to see how much of the original plan the village might still afford, the mayor said. That work may be delayed until 2021.
But that did little to allay the mayor’s excitement at what has been done since May 21, 2018, when she and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, announced a $1 million grant from his office and another $3 million in anticipated state funding to renovate the Doubleday Field property just a few months past its 100th anniversary on Sept. 6, 2019.
Then-Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, came up with another $1 million grant that December.
The grandstand, a WPA project, was completed in May 1939, in time for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first Induction of Babe Ruth and five other early heroes of the game. So this month is that structure’s 80th anniversary.
In a tour of the near-complete site the other day, the mayor was enthusiastic throughout, from the new “Doubleday Field” entrance archway at Main Street, to the sweep of pedestrian walkways on the parking lot’s east and west side, to the burial of all electrical conduits leading to the historic grandstand, a $300,000 project. (If those are your sneakers thrown over the wire, claim them now.)
The outer walls have been repaired, using some of the original shiny yellow-brown tile saved from previous repair jobs. The gable, vintage lighting and the sign on the front entrance are repaired and painted, and will be illuminated by spotlights set in the new brick sidewalk below.
Inside the grandstand, handrails have been installed for the first time. The painting and repairs are being finished. The pressbox – it was discovered the support posts were rotten – had to be repaired. The dugouts, damp and earthen-floored, have been renovated.
The one disappointment is the cavernous depression along the third-base line, but that has been
stabilized sufficiently to allow the new plan, when determined and funded – with perhaps a mezzanine instead of a pavilion – to go forward.
On the way out, the mayor paused at a doggy water fountain, attached to one for human beings, at the entry arch.
Back on Main Street, the mayor points out that the $2.2 million federally funded TEP (for Transportation Enhancement Program) – in the works for seven years – is being completed at almost exactly the same time.
She pointed out the two sets of poles to string promotional banners across Main Street – one at Key Bank, the other at the former general store. At Main and Chestnut, the new traffic signal and pedestrian walkway lights went into service last Friday, May 15.
She is particularly looking forward to the installing of new “way-finding” signs, in a design developed by the late Art Calhoun in his metal-working shop on Linden Avenue.
One side will direct visitors to local shops, restaurants and attractions; the flip side will be interpretive, one detailing The Doubleday Myth, another Otsego Lake, others the Clark and Cooper families’ contributions.
Katz called the lack of interpretive signage “a time-honored problem … Everything that’s happening now is addressing decades-old issues – group space, beautification. Some study in the 1970s said the Doubleday parking lot was the only example of urban blight in the village.”
“In the’40s, the Bursey playground was there. There were gazebos there. It’s just a thrill to see it’s moving forward,” he said.
In New York City, folks are leaning out their windows beating on pots and pans at 7 each evening, an appreciative salute to the First Responders in our latest national trial: Healthcare workers, from ambulance drivers to surgeons, and everybody in between.
In more sedate Cooperstown, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch had an appropriate alternative: the Porch Lights for Support campaign.
(Thankfully: lawnmowers will be roaring soon enough.)
The idea is for residents to turn on their porch lights each evening so, when our local heroes drive home from Bassett Hospital, they do so through a continuous salute of lights.
Some folks immediately warmed up to the idea, and the tributes are in evidence evenings in Baseball Mecca, but not yet the unbroken line signalling the message: Thank you.
A parade of firetrucks, organized by two fire chiefs, Cooperstown’s Jim Tallman and Fly Creek’s Chris Vuolo and the county’s assistant emergency coordinator, Victor Jones, passed by the Bassett campus the other evening in a salute to our First Responders. Great stuff.
But anyone, and everyone, can get in the swing of things, not just in Cooperstown: Maybe the idea will catch on throughout the county.
At a time like this, a cavalcade of lights through all our communities would be a morale booster for all of us.
COOPERSTOWN – Though the Cooperstown Village Board had considered a late start or suspending it entirely, they voted that paid parking will go into effect on Memorial Day weekend as part of the $3.8 million budget approved during their monthly meeting.
Trustee Cindy Falk estimated that revenues will only be $100,000 for the year, down from $463,000 last year.
“It’s a huge punch in the gut,” said Trustee MacGuire Benton.
COOPERSTOWN – Paid parking could be suspended into the middle of the summer, according to Village Trustee Cindy Falk, who proposed the idea during a budget hearing streamed live over YouTube this evening.
“Our paid parking is closely aligned with visitors, and it’s a situation that’s impossible to predict,” she said. “I wonder if at this point, we should consider putting off paid parking until July 1 to give everyone time to get comfortable and for businesses to start re-opening.”
COOPERSTOWN – Joining Republican Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns, the three Democratic incumbents for Village Board filed for independent lines on the March 18 ballot by the 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday evening.
In addition to having her name on the Democratic ballot line, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch will appear on the “Village United” line. Trustee Joe Membrino’s line is “Liberty Party,” and Trustee MacGuire Benton’s, “Many Voices, One Village.”
When Santa arrived at his Cooperstown cottage on Friday, Nov. 29, he arrived at the brand-new Pioneer Park.
“The last design I could find was from 1965,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “There haven’t been a ton of changes since then.”
In 2018, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce kiosk was updated with a touch screen, and a bike rack and bike repair station were built as part of the $2 million federal grant Transportation Enhancement Program.
But because the park is considered an “urban park,” Tillapaugh said, applications for funding direct upgrades to the space were ignored.
“It doesn’t have a swimming pool or anything,” she said. “So it wasn’t a priority for the state parks department.”
In all, the redesign cost $165,000, and went to bid in June. “When I was chair of the (village) Parks Committee, I built up a reserve of funds,” said Tillapaugh. “This year, we put the remainder of the balance into the budget.”
Michael Haas, Delta Engineering, Endwell, was selected as the architect. “He designed the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater at The Fenimore Art Museum,” she said. “He had done urban parks in Corning as well, so we were very familiar with his work.”
The work began Labor Day weekend – “We never do any work in the summer season,” said Tillapaugh – with Kevin Green of Epic Landscaping doing the work.
“Everything had to be done by Nov. 8,” she said. “That would give us time to clean up and for the 4Cs to decorate for Santa’s arrival.”
And Santa was a big consideration for the design of the park. “We consulted with The 4Cs,” – the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee – “And we made sure they were in the loop as we did the design.”
Santa’s Cottage, once at the front of the park, has been moved towards the back to allow for more space in the park for the line to form. “Before the move, people would line up on the sidewalk,” she said. “It allows for better flow and for the whole park to function better.”
There is also a ramp to the new stage, which allows greater accessibility to Santa’s Cottage, and a hidden PVC pipe that allows them to set the tree up with ease. “Before, we were just digging a hole and putting the tree in there, then covering it up with dirt when we were done,” she said. “People would trip over it, so now, there’s a manhole cover.”
The stage is also a new addition, proposed in 2018. “Before, we just had blue flagstone space that musicians would set up,” she said. “So we built a stage with a ramp and more outlets for our Music on Main programming.”
And the park will also host a Keith Haring-style mural next summer, in conjunction with an exhibit of the late artist’s work at The Fenimore.
New plant beds with granite borders were installed, and new plants to fill them. “We planted two birches, and we have a London Planetree that we will plant in the spring,” she said.
A water fountain with a bottle fill station was placed in the park with a temporary concrete pad, but has been removed for the winter and will be replaced in the spring with permanent brick pavers.
“It’s not just about Santa,” she said. “The whole park is greatly improved.”
Editor’s Note: This was reprinted from the current edition of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, available at local newsstands.
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – As suggestions expand to hanging banners beyond the Pride Flag on the village’s flagpole, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is asking Trustee MacGuire Benton to form a committee with two other trustees to develop a policy for all such requests.
“We need a policy, that’s exactly right,” said the mayor, after Benton, in response to last week’s article, said his intent – and, he believes, the Village Board’s vote at its July 22 meeting – specified the Pride Flag would hang next June on the Main and Pioneer flagpole, not on Village Hall.
Editor’s Note: Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch delivered these welcoming remarks when NYCOM, the New York Conference of Mayors, convened Sunday, May 6, at The Otesaga, for its three-day annual conference.
I have had the opportunity over the past year to welcome several groups to Cooperstown – but I have to say this is one of the more intimidating as I am facing a room of peers – elected officials who have all had to provide similar welcomes in their own communities.
But welcoming NYCOM here is a task I wanted, because it is also a chance to say “thank you,”
because in the eight years I have served in village government, I have truly relied on the expertise, guidance and training provided by NYCOM staff. I have also benefited from the experience and knowledge shared by other elected officials.