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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
ONEONTA – Katherine (Kaytee) Lipari Shue, a long-time resident of Oneonta’s Center City neighborhood, has announced her candidacy for Common Council member representing the Fourth Ward.
“I’m looking forward to raising my son in the Fourth Ward and sending him to city schools,” she said. “It’s my priority to support legislation which will foster a positive community experience for all residents of the neighborhood.”
A Democrat, she will face Jerid Goss in the Democratic primary on June 25.
ONEONTA – An office to market the city as a destination for arts and culture, the reuse of “zombie properties” and continuing the Downtown Revitalization Initiative were all recommended as part of Oneonta’s updated Comprehensive Plan, adopted unanimously by Common Council during their meeting this evening.
“You’ve given us a road map that will use over the years,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “It’s given us a clear vision…an action plan and some real goals.”
The city formed steering committee in 2017 to update its Comprehensive Plan, implemented in 2007, because “Oneonta was at the tipping point,” Herzig said, “where we found ourselves with new opportunities and resources to reinvent Oneonta and thrive in today’s economy.”
ONEONTA – For years, it was believed that as many as 23,000 takeoffs and landings happened annually at the Albert S. Nader Regional Airport since the 1980s.
In reality, said Zach Staff, McFarland-Johnson Consulting’s regional aviation planning manager, research for an updated airport master plan found annual takeoffs and landings over the last 30 years really averaged about 4,600.
“People would go with the old number and it was just gathered by word of mouth,” said Staff.
Staff and Turner Bradford, senior engineer for the Binghamton-based firm, presented the updated data to Common Council this evening.
ONEONTA – Though the formal public hearing on the Railyards Generic Environmental Statement isn’t until Tuesday, March 5, citizens told Common Council tonight that it doesn’t focus enough on used of renewables.
“I would like to see us explore this idea of an ‘eco park,’ a net-zero eco park with wind and solar and geothermal energies,” said Colleen Blacklock, who is associated with the Concerned Citizens of Oneonta.
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.
ONEONTA – Looking for a “Clean Energy Communities” designation, a ChargePoint Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging station has been added to the Dietz Street parking lot.
“Over the last two years, there was a joint effort among City departments and the Council to takes steps to earn the Clean Energy Communities designation,” said Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I am proud to have been a part of being able to complete this initiative. Clean Energy can only benefit our community in the future.”
The EV charging station is a pier-mounted console which will allow EV drivers to recharge their batteries over time.
ONEONTA – Common Council Tuesday will be asked to approve a contract with REVPAR International Inc., Alexandria, Va., to do a feasibility study on whether a boutique hotel would be successful in downtown Oneonta.
During Mayor Dick Miller’s administration, such a plan was discussed for the lot between Ristorante Stella Luna and Foothills, but the concept did not move forward at that time. The land was owned by the late Gene Bettiol.
ONEONTA – During last evening’s Common Council, Bernie Zeh Jr. petitioned Council to hear his grievance.
Zeh said his business, ABM Fire Equipment, Hartwick Seminary, is suffering unfairly due to a recent regulation that requires fire-sprinkler inspectors to obtain a Level II inspectors certificate from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering and Technologies (NICET).
“We were not notified of this change,” Zeh said.
Common Council passed the new code at a January 2016 meeting.
“It wasn’t until August 2017, when a customer called us to say the city would not accept our report that we were even made aware that there had been a change,” said Zeh.