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Oneonta Common Council

City Meetings To Be Live-Streamed, Activities Cancelled, Mayor Reports

OPT Remains Open, Activities Cancelled

‘Social Distancing’

To Guide City Hall,

Mayor Announces

Mayor Herzig.

ONEONTA – To implement “social distancing” in the fight against spreading coronavirus, Mayor Gary Herzig announced this evening that Common Council meetings  will be streamed on Facebook Live.

CDC images of coronavurus

“The public is encouraged to attend remotely,” said Mayor Gary Herzig in a statement. “The severity of this pandemic can only be minimized by all communities acting locally to mitigate the spread of this virus.

“Here in the City of Oneonta, we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors and our fellow New Yorkers to voluntarily implement social distancing measures in all group activities,” he said.

CLICK FOR MAYOR’S FULL MEMO TO PUBLIC

 

Former Mayor, SQSPCA Director Named As Oneonta Trailblazers

Former Mayor, SQSPCA Director

Named As Oneonta Trailblazers

Haynes
Muller

ONEONTA – Former Mayor Kim Muller and Susquehanna SPCA executive director Stacie Haynes were announced as the winners of the 2020 Trailblazer Awards, Mayor Gary Herzig announced this evening.

The annual awards, given in honor of Women’s History Month (March), the Woman Trailblazer Award recognizes a woman in the Oneonta area who has enhanced the visibility and importance of women through her employment, volunteering and community engagement.

Youngsters Hold Sway At Oneonta Swearing-Ins

CLICK FOR SLIDE SHOW OF CEREMONY

Youth On Center Stage

At Oneonta Swearing-Ins

Young Politicians, Young Families

Youth will have its way, and that was certainly the case in Oneonta Common Council Chambers at 1 p.m. today, where the a youthful crop of candidates – with their children at their sides – took the oath of office, most on the Constitution instead of the Bible, from City Judge Lucy Bernier.  Above, young Henry Shue, 9 months, in dad Jared’s arms, surveyed the packed room as mom Kaytee Lipari Shue was sworn in as Ward 4 Council member.  Inset middle, a shy Addison Harrington, 5, stood for a portrait with mom Kerri, sister Meghan, 13, and dad Scott, newly elected Council member from the Sixth Ward.  When newly elected County Rep. Jill Basile, D-District 14, was sworn in, inset lower, son Matteo, 7, put his hand on the Constitution beside his mom’s. Five new Council members were sworn in: Shue, Harrington, Luke Murphy (Ward 1), Mark Davies (Ward 2) and Mark Drnek (Ward 8).  Len Carson (Ward 5) was absent.  In addition to Basile, Clark Oliver, District 11, was sworn in as a county representative.  Incumbent Council members David Rissberger (Ward 3) and John Rafter (Ward 7) were sworn in for new terms.   In his introduction, Mayor Gary Herzig praised the youthfulness of the new officials – Oliver is the youngest county board member in history, and Murphy is still in his 20s.  Due to younger citizens, Herzig said, “small cities are being reborn” as “vibrant, progressive and creative.”  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Weather, Holidays Keeps Council Members Home From Final Meeting

Meeting Rescheduled For Wednesday

Weather, Holidays Keep

Council Members Away

From Their Final Duties

Winter weather and holiday travel plans resulted in a near-empty Oneonta Common Council meeting earlier this evening, where outgoing members Michelle Fraser, First Ward, Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward, and Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward, didn’t attend their final meeting as Council members. With Michelle Osterhoudt having resigned Nov. 30, that left only, from left, David Rissberger, Third Ward, City Manager George Korthauer,  Mayor Gary Herzig, City Clerk Kerriann Harrington, Russ Southard, Sixth Ward, John Rafter, Seventh Ward, and Joe Ficano, Eighth Ward, in attendance, leaving the council without a quorum. Though Ficano and Southard, both outgoing, were honored by Herzig for their contributions, inset photo, a special meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 to address agenda items that could not be voted on tonight. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Dog Park Stays In Budget, But Council Concerned About Spending

Dog Park Stays In Budget,

But Council Concerned

About $20M Spending

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Mayor Gary Herzig hopes that Common Council will approve the City’s $20 million budget in December. (James Cummings/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – The Neahwa Park dog park and new positions in fire and public works departments were among the items in the city’s $20 million 2020 budget, but with a deadline looming Council members decried the lack of time given to addressing the changes.

“This year’s budget is a very aggressive one,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We give our Council members more time to discuss parking spaces than we do our budget.”

“It appears that there’s a lot more moving parts with this budget,” said Council member David Rissberger, Third Ward.

“This is the most confusing budget,” said outgoing Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the information I’m being fed. I don’t want to have to go through this with a fine-toothed comb.”

Common Council Approves Dietz Street Lot Sale

Common Council Approves

Dietz Street Parking Lot Sale

Al Rubin, A&D Taxi, speaks in favor of the proposed Lots on Dietz. Common Council approved the conditional sale of a piece of the parking lot to The Kearney Realty & Development Group by a vote of 7-1 this evening. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE & JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – “Energizing.” “A Spark.” “New blood and vitality.”

That was how the audience at Common Council this evening described the proposed Lofts on Dietz, a multi-use project that would include artist’s housing and space for Hartwick College classrooms.

And when Common Council voted 7-1 to approve the sale of a portion of the city-owned lot to The Kearney Realty & Development Group, there was applause.

“This project checks a lot of boxes,” said Al Rubin, A&D Taxi. “We’ve had our failures in this city, but we need that spark. We have an opportunity and we need to seize it.”

AVANZATO: Drnek Knows How To Promote Business
LETTER from ANTHONY AVANZATO

Drnek Knows How

To Promote Business

To the Editor:

It’s nice to see young people getting involved in politics, so I commend Josh Bailey for running for Oneonta Common Council in Ward 8.  However, we are at a time where experience and a historical perspective are warranted.

I have known Mark Drnek for over 25 years and he has always had a good handle on what Oneonta needs and how to improve our community. The SweetHome Oneonta calendar alone has been valuable in attracting both tourists and locals for years into our community and local businesses.

As a business owner, Mark has a long history of working with local Oneonta businesses to compete in an increasingly difficult economy.  Through the creation of SweetHome Productions, Mark has helped my business, along with many other Oneonta businesses to advertise and gain exposure to attract customers.

Both myself and Mark were local radio hosts for over 20 years.  Mark continues to represent Oneonta in two dozen radio stations across the country with the Blue Light Central.  Mark Drnek has been Oneonta’s spokesperson for many years so far, without even holding a political office.

Mark is deeply committed to the Oneonta community and his expertise and experience are gravely needed at point.  He has invested in Oneonta as a resident and businessman and Mark’s vision for Oneonta is to keep the economy stable through local jobs and job growth in the local area.  His understanding of small, local business is a key to upholding this small “City of the Hills”.

He realizes the resources available within our area and is committed to utilizing local businesses rather than hiring outside consultants, and other workers. Therefore the money spent stays here in the local economy.

This candidacy is not about political party but for the future security and well being of Oneonta.

Experience and deep commitment are key to the success of City Council and I support Mark Drnek because I believe he is the best candidate for the job.

ANTONIO AVANZATO

Former owner

Stella Luna Restaurant

Oneonta

SERAFIN: Passion, Determination, Confidence Define Tonner
LETTER from RUTH SERAFIN

Passion, Determination,

Confidence Define Tonner

To the Editor:

Passion, determination, and confidence. If I were asked to describe Ward 5 Common Council candidate Danielle Tonner in three words, those three would describe her perfectly!

I have known Danielle for approximately 17 years, mainly due to our children attending school together. Often, our paths cross in school, on the field or court, or in some local shopping venue.

Naturally, our discussions lead to what the future of Oneonta looks like as we are both raising the next generation of voters and decision-makers. We have a vested interest in our community.

Firstly, let me stress how passionate Danielle is about making a difference and ensuring the vitality of Oneonta. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s in Social Science, so she has prepared herself educationally for a political position where she can make a difference.

I have witnessed her interaction with others when she sees that policy changes were needed for the benefit of all. She stresses her points, provides the reasons why, and then prepares to push hard for her beliefs.

Then comes determination. Danielle feels it is extremely important to become involved in her local government by uniting members toward common goals. She understands that most individuals want the basics like employment, affordable housing, and more local business.

She is eager to be in a position to obtain more grants like the DRI so that tax dollars come back to our community. Furthermore, she can and will make sure that whatever is developed in our region is done so with as much green energy as possible.

Last, but certainly not least, Danielle has the confidence to get the job done. She has been employed by SUNY Oneonta for over 13 years. The key relationships she has created on campus will be very beneficial when working with the city.

She will be a fully transparent member, making sure that she is knowledgeable about the issues and providing viable, working solutions. Her convictions are strong, and she has experience, knowledge, and desire to back them up.

I have no doubt she will thrive when elected as Council member!

RUTH SERAFIN

Oneonta

Council Will Review Fire Sprinkler Inspection Certifications

After A Complaint,

Council Will Review

Fire-Sprinkler Regs

Bernie Zeh, AMB Fire Equipment, reads a letter asking Oneonta Common Council to review an ordinance on which inspectors can look into fire sprinkler systems in the city. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to ALLOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA  – Almost exactly a year after ABM Fire Equipment owner Bernie Zeh raised concerns with Common Council over a January 2016 ordinance that restricted his company’s ability to do business in Oneonta, he brought them up again – this time, with better results.  He said the city never responded to his complaint last year or calls he made to the mayor and Steve Yearly, the Zoning Code Enforcement Officer.

But after listening to Zeh tonight, Common Council members said they would consider reviewing the ordinance, which requires companies like ABM to obtain a specific certification called NICET Level II certification in order to do fire sprinkler system inspection in the city.

“It’s not even necessary,” Zeh said in response to Council member Dave Rissberger’s questions about it.  “I can get statements from sprinkler manufacturers…that I’ve talked to today that will put their 25 years or more experience over a NICET exam.”

Five Appointed To City’s Microenterprise Grant Committee

Five Appointed To City’s

Microenterprise Committee

By JENNIFER HILL •Special to ALLOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – They all run different businesses in downtown Oneonta, but Theresa Cyzeski,  Elizabeth Raphaelson, Vicki Reiss, Sonia Shultis and Madeline Silber all have two things in common.

Each were recipients of a Microenterprise grant from the state, and all were named to the committee tasked with evaluating applications for the 2019 awards during Common Council this evening.

“My feeling was, who knows better what it takes to be successful in starting a new business?” said Mayor Gary Herzig.

With 4 Slogans, ‘We’re Onta Something’ Campaign Nears Launch

With 4 Distinct Slogans,

‘We’re Onta Something’

Campaign Nears Launch

During the Mayor’s Report, Gary Herzig gave an update on the downtown revitalization grant progress including applications and the upcoming ‘We’re ONTA Something” ad campaign. “We want to make people curious about coming to Oneonta, and not just visiting, maybe to stay.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO,com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Oneonta is “onta” adventure. And art. And something delicious and something unique.

“The campaign will let people know that Oneonta exists and what it has to offer,” said Mayor Gary Herzig.

During Common Council this evening, Herzig announced a statewide online marketing campaign Trampoline Ad & Design, the who created the city’s new campaign, “We’re Onta Something,” will launch statewide “soon.”

Herzig explained Trampoline’s marketing campaign will be on social media, with some of it “just on websites,” and show four categories in which Oneonta is “onta something” – artistic, unique, adventurous and delicious.

Developer: Artist Lofts Transform Downtowns

Tonight, Planning Commission Briefed

Developer: Artist Lofts

Transform Downtowns

Before a packed house, Ken Kearney, Parkview Development & Construction, explains how mixed-use, artist and middle-income housing his company built has transformed several Upstate cities, including Beacon and Peekskill. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special To AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Oneonta is the right place at the right time.

That was Hudson Valley developer Ken Kearney’s assessment to a packed Chambers in Tuesday’s Common Council meeting of the positive impact his proposed development, Lofts on Dietz Street, would have on Oneonta’s downtown.

With evidence of positive results from two recent developments with artist lofts and middle-income apartment in Peekskill and Poughkeepsie, Kearney’s prediction for a similar project in Oneonta carried weight.

“We built our Peekskill buildings in a blighted area with high poverty rate and crime,” he said. “No one walked there at any time of day. We were the first investment in about 50 years. When it opened last year, there were people walking up and down Main Street. A coffee shop and restaurant have opened up.”

Sal’s Pizzeria Owner Receives Key To The City

Sal’s Pizzeria Owner

Receives Key To The City

Mayor Gary Herzig presents Sal’s Pizzeria owner Jennifer Grigoli with the key to the city as she receives a standing ovation following the presentation of “A Slice Of Hope” documentary during Common Council this evening. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – There wasn’t a dry eye in Common Council chambers this evening.

Mayor Gary Herzig screened Jessica Vecchione’s award-winning short documentary, “A Slice of Hope,” which tells the story of Jennifer Grigoli, owner of Sal’s Pizzeria, and her efforts to employ people in recovery at her restaurant.

“Jennifer set an example to other businesses in Oneonta and made Oneonta an example for other cities,” Herzig said before presenting Grigoli with the Key to the City.

4 Candidates Vying In Oneonta Primary

CLICK FOR ALL RACES, POLLING PLACES

4 Candidates Vying

In Oneonta Primary

Candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Oneonta are, from left, Seth Clark and Mark Davies in Ward 2, and Jerid Goss and Kaytee Lipari Shue in Ward 4.

ONEONTA – Four candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination to two seats on Common Council in tomorrow’s primary election.  Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. at Foothills.  Click below for questionnaires provided by the four candidates:

SETH CLARK, Ward 2

MARK DAVIES, Ward 2

JERID GOSS, Ward 4

KAYTEE LIPARI SHUE, Ward 4

Also, nominations will be decided in the towns of Laurens, Richfield and Spring, and in county board District 3.

SETH CLARK: ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL, WARD 2

SETH CLARK

ONEONTA COMMON COUNCIL, WARD 2

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Oneonta

EDUCATION: BA in English, MFA in music

Seth Clark

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 24 years experience in the local business community.  Manager of Peter Clark Student Rentals 1995-2010, Owner of various rental properties 2010-present.  College music instructor 1994-1995.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Steering Committee, Oneonta Comprehensive Plan re-write 2017-2019.  I have been deeply involved with the Oneonta small business community as part of my day-to-day professional life since 1995.

FAMILY: Peter Clark, father, Angela Clark, mother.  My father is one of the most successful businessmen in the history of Oneonta.  Some people seem to think that should count against me in this race. That’s just silly.

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT: I don’t care whether we have small government or big government, but we definitely should have COMPETENT government.  That means we listen to our citizens.  That means we don’t put a huge income-restricted housing project in a neighborhood that is overwhelmingly against it.  That means we recognize that the local small business community is struggling, and we address the needs this struggle brings to light.  That means we embrace our local student population as full-fledged citizens of our community, citizens to be respected.  They are, after all, half of the citizenry.  That means we promote new job opportunities intelligently, because we recognize that there is terrible income inequality even in our small community, and that such inequality is thoroughly unacceptable.  And that means we have leaders who understand the workings of our local economy, leaders that understand what grows the economy and what hinders it.

MAJOR ISSUES FACING CITY OF ONEONTA: Over 60 small businesses have closed since the DRI initiative was announced three years ago.  We have, in that time, spent between 1.5 and 2 million dollars on consultants (mostly from outside Oneonta).  We have shameful income inequality.  According to the information I can get from the local school system, fully half of the families in this area are food insecure.  And the city government needs leaders, like myself, who understand the needs of local business and the local economy.

MY QUALITIES:I understand the local economy very, very well, because I have been studying it for the past 25 years.  Studying the economy is part of my job.  Other than that, patience is a virtue.  Impatience is also a virtue.

STATEMENT:  Oneonta is in a period of rapid flux.  The small businesses that weave our community together are certainly on thin ice.  Many of the leaders currently in City Hall want to score cheap political points by creating a false sense that it’s “us” (the year-round residents) versus “them” (our college students).  That kind of rhetoric is completely unproductive.  We need leaders who understand business, understand higher education, understand housing, and how housing availability is effected by the local economy.  If we keep waiting around for the DRI money to materialize and for the rail yards to be developed, we will all grow old waiting while the Oneonta that we know and love disappears beneath our feet.

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