ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig today said he’s not surprised the state rejected Rehabilitation Support Services’ application for low-income housing funds for an affordable housing development project in the Sixth Ward.
“Oneonta does need affordable funding,” he said, “but, unfortunately, the way RSS went about it was not the right way.”
RSS’ plan sparked controversy last October when Sixth Ward residents and business owners abruptly learned the organization had developed a site plan to build 64 affordable units, with 14 for people in recovery from substance addiction.
Chris Kuhn, Director of the Oneonta Job Corps Academy, addresses family, friends and firefighters gathered in ‘the octagon,’ a hallway interchange on the third floor of Oneonta Job Corps named in honor of the late John D. Heller, who lost his life in December rescuing his fiancee and their nephews from the Walling Street arson. “We love him and we miss him.” said Kuhn. “It is our hope that when people walk through this space they will see his story and be inspired.” Members of the Oneonta Fire Department were present, as well as Mayor Gary Herzig, who remarked “This intersection was always full of life, it is only fitting it should be named after him.” At right, Heller’s fianceé Amber Roe speaks beneath his photo. “This is where we met. We spent a lot of time here talking and it was here fell in love.” Photos and stories of Heller’s life and sacrifice, along with his helmet signed by loved ones, are now on display in the John D. Heller Memorial. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
There’s a lot going on in the City of Oneonta right now, as City Hall’s DRI (the Downtown Revitalization Initiative) begins distributing $10 million in state money, leveraging it in a way that attracts many millions more in private investment.
Certainly, there are time pressures. There are conflicting agendas. There’s not ever going to be enough money to make everybody happy. Lately, environmentalists are ready to swoop down on any development that may require more energy, (which is every project).
So from time to time, it may be hard to remember this is the fun part.
ONEONTA – City Hall revoked OH-Fest’s Neahwa Park permit this morning after Mayor Gary Herzig learned on www.AllOTSEGO.com overnight that large numbers of students might protest concert headliner Sean Kingston after learning last week he and his bodyguard were accused of a gang rape in 2010.
The city’s decision throws into doubt whether the Saturday night OH-fest concert will happen at all.
Herzig said he called SUNY President Barbara Jean Morris after SUNY students’ emotionally charged meeting last night, where they discussed whether Kingston should perform.
ONEONTA –The city is moving toward establishing a Bike Share and Microbility Program, with Mayor Gary Herzig asserting, “A bike share is a good thing.”
“But there are many different models of bike shares,” Herzig said in the Council’s Legislative Committee meeting this evening, “And we want to make sure that we control what model we put in here, how it operates, and that it’s what’s best for the community.”
ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig will announce the recipients of the $2.3 million in Downtown Improvement Funding as part of his State of the City address at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.
“The grant applications from our business owners far exceeded all expectations,” said Herzig. “That so many demonstrated a willingness to invest their time, energy, and resources into building a better downtown is very exciting. The award announcements, along with the State of the City address will now mark the transition from Downtown Revitalization planning to implementation.”
ONEONTA – A $10,000 Opportunities for Otsego proposal to determine the need for low- and moderate-income housing in the city and how to fill it met skepticism from a Common Council committee last night.
Still, the Community Development Committee forwarded the proposal for discussion by the full Common Council, which next meets at 7 p.m. this coming Tuesday.
OFO Housing Director Audrey Benkenstein said her organization is seeking $5,000 from the city to match the $5,000 OFO would provide. The idea is to underwrite “a process done by a facilitator” who would examine housing information and analysis done an Otsego County housing study just on Oneonta.
ONEONTA – The legalization of marijuana is coming soon to the state and Oneonta should begin preparing for it. Similarly to the montana marijuana laws, then once the use of medical marijuana becomes legal in Oneonta, then there will also be rules to follow, in order to comply with the industry and the law.
That was Mayor Gary Herzig’s big news from the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) in Albany, specifically in the meeting of the Community Development Committee of Mayors. which Herzig co-chairs.
“This is something that is coming,” the mayor told Common Council’s Community Development Committee at its meeting this evening. “It…could impact our future and we should start thinking about it, positively or negatively. I don’t have judgement on it either way.” Soon, anyone who is a user of medical marijuana will be able to look into something like speed greens online, if they do not have time to visit a dispensary. But until then, everyone who live in Oneonta will have to wait until this becomes legalised. This may have been a long time coming.
ONEONTA – Artspace believes that Oneonta would be an ideal location for a mixed-use, live/work spaces for artists, according to a report from the Minneapolis-based non-profit released today.
“The report speaks clearly,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “They found a lot of support and a real sense of need for this kind of construction.”
Collaborative workspace/maker space was the most-needed usage, the study found.
“Currently, participants primarily use their homes, garages, and basements for their creative work,” the report read. “A collaborative space in Oneonta would help artists transition from students to working artists, encourage collaboration, and provide an attainable entry point for individuals exploring a new medium.”
ONEONTA – Within hours of Saturday morning’s fire that claimed the life of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, the leads began to pour in.
“We had more than 70 leads,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner an hour ago at a press conference held jointly with Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon. “And the investigation is continuing.”
The men reported Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson, which investigators believe started on the second floor of 5 Walling Ave.
Heller and his fiancee, Amber Roe, lived on the top floor, and had their four nephews staying with them that night. Heller and Roe helped the children escape, but then was unable to get out of the building.
ONEONTA – This will be the year, Mayor Gary Herzig said, that the City of Oneonta begins to see the results of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants
“In 60 days, we’ll unveil the redesign of our downtown,” he said. “And this redesign is not by City Hall, but by 80 downtown business owners who have submitted proposals for $2.5 million in funding for improvements. This is a downtown made possibly by the energy of our local businesses.”
Herzig, alongside Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, spoke at the annual State of the State breakfast, hosted by the Otsego County Chamber this morning at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall.
ONEONTA – Negotiations between City Hall and the Oneonta Professional Firefighters have spilled out into the open.
The Oneonta Professional Firefighters accused Mayor Gary Herzig of “mischaracterizing” OPF’s “advocacy for maintaining adequate staffing” of the Oneonta Fire Department in a Dec. 17 press release.
OPF President Andrew Turner reiterated the Fire Department’s continuing need for “six trained firefighters…on duty 24/7” in order to keep Oneonta safe. “This is not an increase in staffing,” he emphasized.