ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Family sponsors should drop gifts at The Freeman’s Journal Office in Cooperstown or at The Salvation Army in Oneonta. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.
CONCERT – 7:30 p.m. Catskill Choral Society presents Songs of Christmas From Many Lands featuring CCS Youth and Childrens Choirs with Dr. G. Roberts Kolb conducting. Cost, $22/adult at door. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-431-6060.
When Santa arrived at his Cooperstown cottage on Friday, Nov. 29, he arrived at the brand-new Pioneer Park.
“The last design I could find was from 1965,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “There haven’t been a ton of changes since then.”
In 2018, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce kiosk was updated with a touch screen, and a bike rack and bike repair station were built as part of the $2 million federal grant Transportation Enhancement Program.
But because the park is considered an “urban park,” Tillapaugh said, applications for funding direct upgrades to the space were ignored.
“It doesn’t have a swimming pool or anything,” she said. “So it wasn’t a priority for the state parks department.”
In all, the redesign cost $165,000, and went to bid in June. “When I was chair of the (village) Parks Committee, I built up a reserve of funds,” said Tillapaugh. “This year, we put the remainder of the balance into the budget.”
Michael Haas, Delta Engineering, Endwell, was selected as the architect. “He designed the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater at The Fenimore Art Museum,” she said. “He had done urban parks in Corning as well, so we were very familiar with his work.”
The work began Labor Day weekend – “We never do any work in the summer season,” said Tillapaugh – with Kevin Green of Epic Landscaping doing the work.
“Everything had to be done by Nov. 8,” she said. “That would give us time to clean up and for the 4Cs to decorate for Santa’s arrival.”
And Santa was a big consideration for the design of the park. “We consulted with The 4Cs,” – the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee – “And we made sure they were in the loop as we did the design.”
Santa’s Cottage, once at the front of the park, has been moved towards the back to allow for more space in the park for the line to form. “Before the move, people would line up on the sidewalk,” she said. “It allows for better flow and for the whole park to function better.”
There is also a ramp to the new stage, which allows greater accessibility to Santa’s Cottage, and a hidden PVC pipe that allows them to set the tree up with ease. “Before, we were just digging a hole and putting the tree in there, then covering it up with dirt when we were done,” she said. “People would trip over it, so now, there’s a manhole cover.”
The stage is also a new addition, proposed in 2018. “Before, we just had blue flagstone space that musicians would set up,” she said. “So we built a stage with a ramp and more outlets for our Music on Main programming.”
And the park will also host a Keith Haring-style mural next summer, in conjunction with an exhibit of the late artist’s work at The Fenimore.
New plant beds with granite borders were installed, and new plants to fill them. “We planted two birches, and we have a London Planetree that we will plant in the spring,” she said.
A water fountain with a bottle fill station was placed in the park with a temporary concrete pad, but has been removed for the winter and will be replaced in the spring with permanent brick pavers.
“It’s not just about Santa,” she said. “The whole park is greatly improved.”
DECORATION – 2 p.m. Help decorate Santa’s cottage, village lamp poles for the holidays. E-mail to reserve a pole. Decorations provided, bring gloves/ladders if available. Pioneer Park, Cooperstown. email@example.com
COOPERSTOWN – Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch will update the public on several village projects due to begin right after Labor Day at an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, in Village Hall’s second-floor ballroom, which is accessible by elevator from the Fair Street entrance.
Topics to be covered include the waste-water treatment plant improvement project, Pioneer Park upgrades, the continuation of the Downtown Pedestrian Improvement Project (TEP), and design and construction plans for Doubleday Field. Engineers and contractors will be on hand to answer questions.
Welcome, Induction attendees! Will there really be more than a record-breaking 84,000 of us? Excitement.
If you’re been here before, look around: You will see many changes and improvements to Cooperstown’s downtown that have occurred since the last record-setter, when Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn set the record for attendance in 2008.
If you came then, you might be astonished by what you see now. Then, all the sidewalks were cracked. Main Street needed paving. The whole downtown had a bit of a well-worn sense about it – endearing, yes, but still…
Beginning in 2012, that began to change quickly.
Now-Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch remembers being a bit nonplussed at her first Village Board budget meeting after being elected a trustees in March 2011.
“The budget wasn’t balancing very well,” she recalled the other day. “There was a big surplus in the Water Fund, and $400,000 had to be shifted from Water into the General Fund” just to stay even.
“That was maintenance level,” she said.
The next year, the village trustees made a decision after the most angrily debated local issue in decades: In the face of a sharply divided electorate, they voted to extend paid parking to all downtown streets between Labor Day Weekend and Columbus Day Weekend.
Almost immediately, Village Hall’s financial picture brightened.
The first year, paid parking added $250,000 to the $5 million village budget, and that’s continued to grow in the years since to $400,000 in the fiscal year that ended May 31. Village taxes haven’t gone up in five years.
At the same time, a freshman Village Trustee (now Deputy Mayor) Cindy Falk, began developing prowess in grantsmanship. Successes soon followed:
In 2013-14, a $600,000 state Green Innovation Grant paid for “rain gardens” around newly planted trees. In part, the idea was to slow runoff into Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna River. The first brick sidewalks were also installed.
About the same time, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $2.2 million for downtown enhancements, from repaving, to sidewalks, to redone and new lampposts (with LED lights), to street furniture, on Main but also on Pioneer.
The final step will come this fall: Narrowing the Main and Chestnut intersection, adding walk/don’t walk signs, and generally making it less scary to pedestrians. (If you’ve tried to cross there, you know what we mean.)
Local money, $1.2 million, was used for more routine projects, albeit important: the replacing of water lines and sewerage under Pioneer Street dating back to the 1880s.
A $5.8 million renovation of historic Doubleday Field, the symbolic – if not actual – Birthplace of Baseball is now underway. Go and take a look.
In all, Falk estimates $10-15 million has been spent to make this village of 1,769 people more welcoming to a half-million visitors a year.
Throughout this period, now-retired Trustee Lou Allstadt led the charge on upgrading the historic Village Hall. Stop by and take a look, and stop by the library and Cooperstown Art Association gallery while you’re at it.
No one has a ready tally of all this. $5 million. $10 million. Maybe more. Whatever, a lot for a village of
There’s more still to come, particularly at Pioneer Park (Main and Pioneer), where initial work – a bike rack and water found – has already begun.
A stage is planned against the Tunnicliff Inn side wall for the popular “Music on Main” programs during the summer. Brick pavers will add handicapped accessibility. And landscape – a London plane tree and birches – will be added, three lampposts and new furniture.
“We all recognized new sources of revenues were needed, and aggressive grant application, to take care of infrastructure that was just going to deteriorate,” Tillapaugh said, who was fully involved in all of this as deputy mayor to Jeff Katz, who retired from office a year ago April 1, and now as mayor herself.
She also pointed out that merging village court into Otsego Town Court, and repositioning the municipal library as a school-district library, paid for by a separate levy, further helped the village’s financial picture.
The free-wheeling nature of the 2008 Ripken-Gwynn weekend is no more. Everywhere you’ll see high-security measures: from temporary iron fences to such additions as $4,000 trash cans that can be locked during the Legends of Baseball parade Saturday evening. You’ll also notice a much greater police presence.
Regrettably, that’s the nature of our post-9/11 world, intensified after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It can’t be helped for now; maybe in a better world to come. We can at least be assured that state-of-the-art measures are in place to ensure the security of the at-least 84,001 of us this weekend.
Enjoy – the Induction of Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Harold Baines and Lee Smith will likely be one for the record book. In beautified downtown Cooperstown this weekend, we may be participating in history.
TREE LIGHTING – 4:30 – 6 p.m. Inaugural ceremony with Otego Mayor Ernie Kroll followed by Christmas tree lighting at the library, then caroling. Bring non-perishable food for Otego Food Bank. Begins at Otego Firehouse, 5 River St., Otego. 607-988-6661 or visit www.facebook.com/harrislibrary/
FUNDRAISER – 6 p.m. Cat Yoga with Lisa Brown and Susquehanna SPCA. All proceeds to Susquehanna SPCA. Suggested donation, $10. Bring your own mat, be prepared to meet adoptable kitties. First Baptist Church, 21 Elm St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9371 or visit www.facebook.com/ctownfirstbaptist/
PIANO CONCERT – 6 – 8 p.m. Sing-a-long to player piano performing holiday carols, other favorites. Includes seasonal refreshments. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org