News of Otsego County

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


Melissa Nicosia

Environmentalist Davies Sought To Make City Greener

Environmentalist Davies

Sought To Make City Greener

To the Editor:

As outgoing city councilwoman for Oneonta’s Second Ward, it is my privilege to endorse Dr. Mark Davies for the Ward 2 Common Council seat in the upcoming primary election on Tuesday, June 25.

Mark has been a city resident for 17 years. He is employed as a Hartwick College professor of education, and is coordinator of the environment, sustainability and society major there.

On a personal note, Mark is an avid mountain biker and hiker, and loves working and living in Oneonta. He feels the area offers the best trails for his outdoor pursuits, as well as being rich in agriculture and natural beauty. This gives him an opportunity to educate his students on the importance of protecting the environment.

Mark’s lifelong commitment to social and environmental justice has led him to be actively involved in local initiatives and boards.

As Common Council liaison to our Environmental Board, I have had the pleasure of working with Mark, who is chair, for the past 3½ years. He has been on the Environmental Board for six years, as chair for four years.

Mark works to help the city find ways to reduce Green House Gas emissions, develop “complete streets” to assure a walkable/bikeable city, and create a sustainable vision by being a member of the countywide Energy Task Force and the City Comprehensive Planning Committee. He is working to develop a plan securing grant money for a countywide composting facility to be located in Oneonta.

Dr. Davies’ knowledge of, and commitment to, our city, its residents, the county and the environment, are the reasons I feel he is the best candidate to represent Oneonta’s Second Ward. I encourage you to vote for Mark Davies for second ward councilman on June 25.

Second Ward Councilwoman, Oneonta

OH Fest Dominates Yet Another City Meeting

OH Fest Dominates

City Council Meeting

OHS Sophomore Abigail Dening reads from her article, criticizing Oneonta college students for their destructive behavior. Dening’s article appeared in the latest edition of the school’s newspaper, The Echo. (Parker Fish/

By PARKER FISH • Special To

“We got here slowly,” says Council member Joe Ficano, “and I think its going to take some time to reverse this trend.”

ONEONTA – In the ongoing debate over the behavior of college students in Oneonta, specifically pertaining to OH-Fest, the annual joint college festival, Common Council members still cannot come to an agreement as to what needs to happen, or how to solve the issue of binge drinking in residential areas in the city.

Concerned citizens petitioned once again, pleading for council members to work together to solve the issue sooner rather than later.

“I’ve noticed that we have a huge problem with drinking and drugs. There is actually a store on Main St. that has t-shirts and sweatshirts that have ‘Stoneonta’ printed on them,” said Oneonta High School Sophomore Abigail Dening.

Foxes, Skunks Concern Center City Neighbors

Foxes, Skunks Concern

Center City Neighbors

Patricia Crow asked Common Council to consider hiring a wildlife expert after she saw a fox running loose in her Center City neighborhood (Ian Austin/
Police Chief Doug Brenner warned that if citizens see a sick animal not to approach it, but to instead call police or the DEC.

ONEONTA – Patricia Crow, 14 Myrtle Ave, told Oneonta Common Council that she spotted a fox near her home in Center City on Thursday, Sept. 14.

“I clearly sighted a fox traveling across my neighbor’s back yard.” she said. “Never in my nearly 70 years have I seen a fox in Center City.”

Though she warned that foxes were “not safe for the citizens of Oneonta,” The Humane Society says that foxes are not considered dangerous and are generally scared of humans, especially if they make a loud noise. Dogs and adult cats are generally safe from foxes, but kittens, rabbits and other small animals could be considered prey and should be kept inside.

However, Police Chief Doug Brenner says there has been an “uptick” in sick animals, namely skunks, including four in one week. “These animals were not well,” he said. “They were rolling in the street.”

Angry Townfolks Object To Annexation Idea

Angry Townfolks Object

To Annexation Talk

Wade Beltramo, NYCOM General Council, gave a workshop on annexation in Council chambers this evening and was met by contentious remarks from residents of the Town of Oneonta, who object to the idea of the city annexing the airport and city water supply. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – A workshop to look at the process of annexing brought out a full house of Laurens and Town of Oneonta citizens who accused Common Council of planning to annex the Oneonta Municipal Airport and the city’s water supply.

“You must have some reason for holding this workshop,” said Bill Starna, the retired SUNY Oneonta anthropology professor. “Otherwise, are you just poking around in the dark?”

“There is no proposal here,” said Council Member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “This is just something to learn. No one is talking about annexing any specific property.”

YMCA Parks Program Cut From City Budget Talks

Y’s Summer Parks Program

Removed From City Budget

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Council Member Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward, pleads with Council to keep funding the YMCA's summer Parks Program during tonight's budget workshop.  Behind her, from front, are Council member Joe Ficano, John Rafter and Russ Southard.   (Ian Austin/
Council Member Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward, pleads with Council to keep funding the YMCA’s summer Parks Program during tonight’s budget workshop.  Behind her, from front, are Council member Joe Ficano, John Rafter and Russ Southard.   (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – The YMCA Parks Program is on the chopping block to help closed a $338,067 gap already reduced from $2 million in the $15.2 million budget target Common Council is seeking to keep taxes stable in 2017.

“We’re not a babysitting service,” said Council member Paul van der Sommen, First Ward.  “We can’t justify the cost.”

The Y’s Parks Program offered kids two sets of supervised activities; in the morning at Neahwa Park and afternoon at the Wilber Park pool, for $10 a week per child for city residents.  The city paid the Y $22,000 this year to run the eight-week program, but the Y found that it was unable to keep up with the cost of whole-day staffing, and cut the program back to just the morning.

Common Council Approves City Manager Search Committee

Donovan, Cleinman Join

Search For City Manager

Council Members Paul van der Sommen, First Ward, Melissa Nicosia. Second Ward and David Rissberger, Third Ward, will all serve on the search committee for the next city manager, approved unanimously at tonight's Common Council meeting. (Ian Austin/
Oneonta Common Council Tuesday evening unanimously approved Mayor Gary Herzig’s slate for the search committee that will recruit a third city manager, after the first two resigned under pressure.  For the first time, the search committee will include community members, retired SUNY Oneonta President Alan Donovan and Al Cleinman of Cleinman Performance Partners, the national consultancy for optometry practices.  Council members on the panel include, above, from left, David Rissberger, Melissa Nicosia and Paul van der Sommen.  (Ian Austin/
Greenway Project Suspended, But Trails Still Open

Greenway Project Suspended,

But Existing Trails Still Open

Council Member Melissa Nicosia brought the resolution to suspend the expansion of the Susquehanna Greenway out of the recommendations from the Community Development Committee. (Ian Austin/
Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, brought the resolution to suspend the expansion of the Susquehanna Greenway to Common Council from the Community Development Committee. (Ian Austin/
The Susquehanna Greenway will remain open for biking, walking and recreation.
The Susquehanna Greenway will remain open for biking, walking and recreation.


ONEONTA – For now, at least, plans to expand the Susquehanna Greenway are dead.

“The city would have to come up with $40,000 just to do a redesign,” said Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, who brought the resolution to suspend the project from the Community Development Committee.  “We would have to start the work by September and finish in January.  It’s just not in the best interest of the city.”

The resolution, which passed unanimously at tonight’s Common Council meeting, suspended the proposed plan to expand the Greenway in both directions for improved access and trails from South Main Street.  “We’ve had flooding since we originally designed the project,” said Nicosia.  “The plans we had no longer work.  And with the timeline, it’s just not feasible.”

Charter Commission Recommends Giving Mayor Vote on City Manager

Charter Committee Recommends:

 Let Mayor Vote On City Manager

Joining the Charter Review Commission was new City Council Member John Rafter, Seventh Ward. Behind him is Council Member Russ Southard, Sixth Ward. (Ian Austin/
Joining Mayor Herzig’s ad hoc Charter Review Committee is new Common Council member John Rafter, Seventh Ward. Behind him is Council member Russ Southard, Sixth Ward. (Ian Austin/


ONEONTA – Though a mayor’s vote is normally limited to breaking ties, the ad hoc Charter Review Committee is recommending that a mayor be part of the search for the city manager, and be allowed a vote along with Common Council to make the appointment.

“Both have to be heavily involved,” said Council member Russ Southard, Sixth Ward.  “Otherwise, you don’t have a buy-in.  Mayor Dick Miller was heavily involved in the search for the first two city managers.”

The continued clarification of the mayor and city manager’s roles were discussed in length at the charter review meeting this evening.  Former Council member Maureen Hennessy had resigned from committee, and Mayor Gary Herzig appointed new Council member John Rafter to take her place.

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