ONEONTA – There are 163 towns in the 19th Congressional District, many of them with fireworks, parades and other events celebrating Independence Day. And Antonio Delgado, the Democratic candidate for Congress, chose to spend his Fourth of July in Oneonta.
“Oneonta is a wonderful place,” he said. “I have a responsibility to touch every part of the district, to meet with people and listen to them.”
ONEONTA – Citing a “bold progressive agenda,” Mayor Gary Herzig has endorsed candidate Jeff Beals for Congress in the June 26 Democratic primary in the 19th Congressional District, the first and only endorsement by a city mayor in the race.
“Jeff Beals is the tough, experienced progressive we need to take on John Faso in the fall,” Herzig declared. “He stands out in this race with a bold progressive agenda and the government background to make change happen. He will win this race, and I stand with him and the movement he has built to change life here for the better.”
Question: Can Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig’s administration make tough decisions?
For one thing, whether or not to condemn the Twelve Tribes’ blighted Oneonta Ford property has been hanging fire since before Herzig took office. He’s now in his second term.
There is state money in hand to demolish what is a public hazard and state money to prepare the site for new construction. All that’s hanging fire is a tough decision.
Now, the April 30 deadline to clear out the venerable but – city inspectors have found – dangerous Oneonta Hotel is passed. Where’s the decision that’s been promised for months?
City Hall’s Board of Public Service declared the property unsafe in January 2017, 16 months ago. And still the building is occupied, and businesses are functioning on the ground floor.
You have to ask, what’s City Hall’s liability –and that of local taxpayers — if a fire or some other misfortune were to happen?
It’s past time to make a tough decision. Question: Can the Herzig Administration make it?
Question 2: Common Council has barely debated any issue publicly in months. Where are the Council members?
ONEONTA – After finding “numerous violations” remaining at the former Oneonta Hotel, 195 Main St., City Hall has begun the process of evicting the remaining tenants following the passing of the April 30 deadline imposed for fixing building deficiencies.
“After review of all inspection reports, it is clear that numerous violations still exist,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “To protect the safety of the residents, general public, and our first responders, the city attorney is moving forward with vacating the building.”
Over 400 people marched from Oneonta High School to Muller Plaza this morning as they took part in the national March For Our Lives protest for tougher gun legislation. Above, Caroline Bagby, a OHS senior and recent recipient of the Women’s Trailblazer Award, delivers an impassioned speech to those gathered in the plaza. Numerous people spoke including Mayor Gary Herzig, Assembly candidate Daniel Buttermann, Abbey Koutnik and others. At right, county Representative Danny Lapin, D-City of Oneonta, holds his sign high as the crowd marches down East Street during the first leg of the march. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – Despite Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta students protesting that the “Social Hosting” law could have “unintended consequences,” Common Council voted unanimously to pass a law which would create a fine of up to $1000 for any person holding a party or social gathering where minors were found to be consuming alcohol or using other illicit drugs.
“I’m concerned that many students at both Oneonta and Hartwick will start drinking in other places,” said James Kavanaugh, a SUNY senior and president of the Inter-fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta. “God forbid someone were to fall off Table Rock after drinking a little bit. I believe that there could be unintended consequences if [the council] were to vote yes on this resolution.”
ONEONTA – With at least a decade since it was the focus of serious redevelopment interest, the intriguing Ford Block at Main and Muller Plaza, a signature downtown building, is again a focus of interest.
Mayor Gary Herzig said he’s spoken three times in the past few months with David Sarkisian, a member of the family real-estate and development firm in Binghamton that owns the property, and that the businessman is “very interested, very engaged” in adding “high-quality housing” to the upper two floors.
The building houses Key Bank’s downtown office at 202 Main, but the upper floors – looking out on Miller Plaza and up and down Main Street – have been unused for decades.
ONEONTA – Bike trails, a candy shop, blade signs and more winter recreation were all suggestions made during the Comprehensive Plan committee’s open house in the CANO galleries at the Wilber Mansion earlier this evening.
“To build a good community, we need input from everyone,” said Ethan Gaddy, an Elan Planning community planner. “This sort of forum works because it’s a non-threatening way to make your voice heard without having to stand up in a meeting or fill out a form online.”
Reginald Brunson, Hobart, delivers his rendering of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at this afternoon’s MLK Day commemoration organized by the NAACP, Oneonta Chapter, at the St. Mary’s Church this afternoon. At Right, Mayor Gary Herzig takes to the podium to read a Oneonta City Proclamation, remarking “Fifty years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we find ourselves withe a President who is a racist. I feel that this is the time where every community, no matter how small, needs to speak out and do what is right.” The annual celebration featured a large selection of talents with music from LadyJam, DJ Wooden, St. Mary’s Choir, Eight Is Enough, and the Steve Fabrizio Jazz Ensemble as well as keynote speaker Dr. Luvelle Brown, superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools, Gary Stevens, and remarks from NYS Attory General Eric Schneiderman to name a few. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – The once-elegant Oneonta Hotel at Main and Dietz, in decline for decades, has been declared “unsafe,” Mayor Gary Herzig acknowledged this evening when asked about it at a meeting of the city’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee in City Hall.
Seth Clark, a downtown landlord and member of the steering committee, said he had heard a “vacate” order had been issued, requiring tenants of the building – it includes businesses on the ground floor, with apartments on four stories above – to depart within 30 days.
ONEONTA – At tonight’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Gary Herzig publicly chided Town of Oneonta Fire District commissioners for what he described as telling tales out of school.
While Fire Commissioners Johna Peachin and Fred Volpe sat stony-faced in the gallery, Herzig took them on for, he said, briefing Town Supervisor Bob Wood and the town board about long-stalled negotiations over the contract so the city’s professional department can continue providing services in the town.
On May 1, Herzig said, he and the other city negotiators, Finance Officer Meg Hungerford and Council member Russ Southard met with Peachin and Fire Commissioner Mike Butler. At that time, they agreed “negotiations would remain confidential and public comment should be avoided.”
“The city has honored that agreement with no public report having been provided – not even to the city’s Common Council. For this reason, I was both surprised and disappointed when the Commissioners recently presented a public report to the Town of Oneonta Supervisor and Board members.”