News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

MAyor Gary Herzig

Downtown Improvement Awards Will Be Announced Tuesday March 5

Downtown Improvement Awards

To Be Announced Tuesday March 5

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’s Housing Problem Sparks Debate in Council Committee Meeting

Is Additional Affordable

Housing Needed In City?

Council Committee Asks

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Melissa Nicosia, left, who chairs Common Council’s Community Development Committee, and Council member Michelle Frazier question an OFO proposal for affordable housing. ( photo)

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 Needs to Prepare for State’s Legalization of Marijuana, Mayor Says

Oneonta Must Prepare

For State’s Marijuana

Legalization, Mayor Says

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

Mayor Gary Herzig said Oneonta should start preparing legalization of marijuana. (Jennifer Hill/

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.

Potential Buyers Express Interest In Oneonta Hotel

With Tenants Out,

Exit Realty Listing

Hotel For $1.85M

One Tenant Remains, But City

Working To Locate New Home

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

One of 27 photos of former Oneonta Hotel on the Exit Realty web site.

ONEONTA – Within days of the listing, potential investors have already expressed interest in looking at the former Oneonta Hotel, according to realtor Adam Karns.

“We had a camp out towards Stamford that expressed interest, and I know another agent had someone interested,” he said. “But we haven’t taken anyone through yet.”

Following Judge John Lambert’s decision to uphold the City’s Order to Vacate on Tuesday, Feb. 5, owner Melania Pervu put the property up for sale with Exit Realty for $1.85 million.

“I believe that’s what it was appraised at a year ago,” said Karns.



City Perfect For Artspace, Feasibility Study Reports


Feasibility Report:

Oneonta Is Perfect

For Artspace Project

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Artspace today released a positive preliminary report on a site in Oneonta.

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.”



Leads Poured In, Leading To Arrest Of Oneonta Man, 34


Leads Poured In,

Leading To Arrest

Of Oneonta Man, 34

Police, Fire Chiefs Detail What’s Known

Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon, left, and Police Chief Doug Brenner detail what they know at a 5 p.m. press conference in Oneonta City Hall. For a video of the press conference, click here.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Terrence Truitt

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.



Main Street, Lettis Highway Vision for Oneonta in 2019


This Year, Oneonta

Will Bloom With DRI

Money, Mayor Says

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, center, touted plans for a forthcoming re-design of Main Street as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, with work slated to begin this spring. With him on the panel, from right, are Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and state Senator Jim Seward, R-Milford, speaking at the annual State of the State Breakfast, hosted by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Senator Seward said, when downstate gets something, Upstate must as well.

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.

City Hall, Oneonta Firefighters Spar Over Staffing EXCLUSIVE

City Hall, OFD Union

Spar Over Staff Levels

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

The Oneonta Public Safety Building at Main and South Market houses the fire department, as well as police and courts.

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.

Lt. Governor Hochul In City To Tour Corning

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

In City To Tour Corning

Aimee Swan, right, chats with Lt Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, during lunch at the Autumn Café earlier this morning. With her are Michelle Catan, left, and Wayne Carrington, owner of the Autumn Cafe and the B-Side Ballroom. Nick Savin, ONC BOCES superintendent, and Mayor Gary Herzig also attended. (Gary Herzig, contributed photo)
Hochul stopped by the Green Toad Bookstore, where she picked up Christmas presents.

ONEONTA – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Oneonta today to see the Corning plant and tour Main Street, Mayor Gary Herzig reports.

“She was very impressed with Corning’s jobs and the training they give their employees to help them move up in their careers,” said Herzig. “She also spoke with them about the upgrades to the plant.”

Berger, Tiemann named employees of the quarter

Berger, Tiemann Named

Employees Of Quarter

Mayor Gary Herzig stands with Police Sgt. Eric Berger, left, and Police Detective Joseph Tiemann, right, who were awarded the City’s Employees of the Quarter award this evening at Common Council. The pair were recognized thanks to a letter from Dan Maskin, CEO of Opportunities for Otsego, who commended them on their work with his staff during a recent active shooter drill at their facility. “They did an outstanding job working with and training my staff for the unimaginable,” said Maskin. (Ian Austin/
Firefighters’ Call For More Staffing Surprises Mayor

Herzig: Negotiations Underway

Firefighters’ Call

For More Staffing

Surprises Mayor

Mayor Herzig

ONEONTA – The Oneonta city firefighters’ union call for increased staffing in the wake of Tuesday’s Church Street housefire was “surprising,” coming in the midst of contract negotiations, Mayor Gary Herzig said today.

“The city has proposed scheduled adjustments that will provide the flexibility needed to ensure optimal staff coverage under all circumstances,” Herzig said.

Common Council Votes To Name Airport In Sam Nader’s Honor

Council Names City Airport

After Ex-Mayor Sam Nader

“This was the single greatest point of pride in my dad’s life,” said former mayor John Nader, as he accepted a plaque this evening after Common Council unanimously voted to rename the Oneonta Municipal Airport as The Albert S. Nader Regional Airport. Nader, president of SUNY Farmington, who drove up for the event,  read a statement from his father, who remarked, “I regret that I am unable to be with you tonight, but I want to thank each and every one of you for bestowing this honor on me.” The vote was broadcast on the city’s Facebook page, allowing Sam to watch from home. With Nader is Mayor Gary Herzig, who presented the idea to Council just before Thanksgiving. (Ian Austin/

Common Council Approves Study for New Downtown Hotel

Common Council Approves

Study for New Downtown Hotel

Mayor Gary Herzig and City Manager George Korthauer believe that Oneonta would be a good site for a boutique hotel. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO,com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Downtown Oneonta could soon be the site of a new boutique hotel.

Oneonta’s Common Council authorized the Mayor to contract with the consulting firm, REVPAR International, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia to do a marketing feasibility study for developing a downtown-area boutique hotel during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Funded by a state grant of $19,000, the feasibility study will determine if a boutique hotel would be a good addition to Oneonta.

Sixth Ward Housing Project Pulled From Agenda

Sixth Ward Housing Project

Pulled From Planning Agenda

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Following public outcry and concerns that the city was swapping private property, Mayor Gary Herzig has announced that Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS), the organization spearheading a multifamily housing development project located off River Street in Oneonta’s Sixth Ward, has requested to have its plan removed from the Oneonta Planning Commission meeting agenda on Wednesday, Nov 21.

RSS’s decision came after Oneonta’s City Council chose not to move forward with a swap of city property for private property that was a necessary part of the planned location for the housing development, which would be for residents with low-to-moderate incomes.




Council, Town Board Must Adopt Agreement

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – Town Supervisor Bob Wood and Mayor Gary Herzig met this morning to propose a five-year fire contract, with the town paying $1.15 million in 2019.

“It wasn’t a difficult thing,” said Wood. “The current contract of $1.1 million had no formula in place, so we looked at a modified version of the old formula to come up with this number.”

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