Patients, visitors and caregivers at Bassett Medical Center (BMC) are invited to step into the dreams of local artists through an art exhibit recently installed in the BMC cafeteria. What’s in a Dream? is an array of square tiles, each contributed by a student, resident or staff member of Springbrook in Oneonta. Together they form a unified, mosaic-like pattern spanning the northeast wall of the dining area.
As the installation’s name implies, each mini-composition is a peek into its creator’s dreams. The full gambit of dreams are included — sleeping dreams, daydreams, personal longings, or aspirations for the future. Some squares depict a scene or image. Others include words, phrases or icons. Still others are an abstract mix of paint or multimedia.
I just returned from a trip to visit family. While away, I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone — my grandson’s graduation from fifth grade. At his ceremony, he shared that his goal throughout school was to “make his parents proud.” His sincerity has me thinking about Springbrook at this time of year — summer at Springbrook feels charmed.
In June, we celebrated the accomplishments of ten exceptional graduates of The School at Springbrook. These young people came to The School at Springbrook from across the state, with unique backgrounds, skills, and goals. One graduate came to Springbrook as a nonverbal student, and through years of work and determination, crossed the graduation stage as a multilingual adult. Several graduates leave us ready to pursue meaningful employment, or to find new living environments that continue to promote their independence. What each of these graduates shares is tenacity — a determination that cannot be broken, no matter what the wider world may say. What I take pride in is that, at Springbrook, we say “yes, you can!” when all others say, “no, you can’t.”
Springbrook’s long-term plan to convert space in Oneonta’s downtown to market-rate housing took a big step forward last week when the nonprofit finalized the purchase of the Ford Block buildings from 186 to 212 Main Street.
The nonprofit provider of supports and services to people with developmental disabilities will begin renovations on the space in July. The $8.9 million project will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 24 affordable, market-rate residential units, with four units reserved as integrated housing for people receiving services from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
Renovations will also revive the pass-through area from the municipal parking lot to Main Street.
Springbrook has funded the purchase and planned renovations through various funding sources, including a City of Oneonta grant, a City of Oneonta Downtown Revitalization grant, an Empire State Development grant, Community Preservation Corporation funding, NYS Homes and Community Renewal financing, and the Berkshire Bank Historical Tax Credit.
[Editor’s note: This week’s “News from the Noteworthy” column comes from Seth Haight, Chief Operating Officer for Springbrook.]
I hope Springbrook’s plans to renovate Oneonta’s historic Ford Block buildings come as no surprise.
While the COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold, it is near and dear to our hearts here at Springbrook. That is why I was excited when Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook’s CEO, asked me to write this piece and bring the public back up to speed about our plans for the buildings. I am Springbrook’s Chief Operating Officer and leader for this project.
I’ll start with why Springbrook chose to pursue renovating a downtown building. For us, this project is about community. Springbrook is recognized across the state for our innovative, compassionate, and professional approach to supporting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. We have offices in Oneonta, Norwich, Binghamton, and Ithaca, operate homes in five counties, and offer supports in 14 counties. But Oneonta is home.
Yes, we’ve spread, but always for a purpose. Our approach is to find what works here in Oneonta and Otsego County first, then offer those services across the state. Springbrook’s success is built on this sound strategy and our commitment to the mission. This project is no different. This community has supported our growth and the needs of the people we support for nearly 100 years, and we need to invest back into the community.
The planned $6.5 million project will add vibrancy to Oneonta’s downtown, preserving the beautiful historic character of the buildings while attracting professionals to live downtown and showcasing some of Oneonta’s outstanding small businesses, like the Latte Lounge and the Green Toad Bookstore. We envision “The Ford on Main” as more than a building—we hope it will be a destination, a testament to a community that can change to meet the needs of the people who live here.
The renovations will keep existing retail space on the lower floors while the upper two stories will be converted into 22 affordable, market-rate residential units. Renovations will also revive the pass-through area from the municipal parking lot to Main Street. The corridor has long served as an unofficial introduction to Oneonta for tourists, students, and newcomers to our region. This project also follows in the footsteps of other similar investments in this community, like the Klugo renovations to the former Bresee’s building or the repurposing of the former Christian Life Sciences Center. Each investment builds on the next—all good things for Oneonta.
As “The Ford on Main” project is about community, we are excited to acknowledge our many partners. Springbrook is driving the bus, but many others are along for the ride. These partners include the City of Oneonta, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Community Preservation Corporation, the Otsego County IDA, NYS Parks & Recreation, the National Parks Service, and the Empire State Development Corporation. They have helped us navigate grants, loans, designs, contracts, and much more. They will also help us with our goal of using local suppliers, contractors, and talent as much as possible.
We intend to start construction in the second quarter of 2022, with a tentative open date in the fourth quarter of 2022 (don’t quote me on that opening date!). A website for the project will launch in April. I encourage you to visit to stay up-to-date on construction, find rental information, and share your perspective about the building or the pass-through space.
Springbrook is here for a lifetime—mine, yours, your children’s, your grandchildren’s, the lifetime of Otsego County, of Oneonta. We all thrive together. And remember, buy local!
I had difficulty celebrating the 2022 New Year. I was certainly unable to make any resolutions. After all, I’ve spent the last two years being very resolute. As the third year of the pandemic loomed, I saw the year beginning with a continued onslaught of information, from new or revised protocols, to new plans to protect our health, our community, and our way of life. But what I didn’t see was any real difference as a result of those protocols. Our holidays were still upended by this pandemic.
The holiday season has always been a cherished time in my role at Springbrook. It offers a connection to the people who make up Springbrook, be they family members, students, residents, staff, or donors. I missed the celebrations and contact with the Springbrook community of individuals, families, and incredible staff!
Being connected to the people of Springbrook — to our mission — is one reason I chose the location
of my office. My space looks out on Springbrook’s main campus playground and the pathways used by many of the students going to and from school. This vantage point gives me the opportunity to glance over my computer screen to see the reasons why I am at Springbrook.
Springbrook – Otsego County’s third-largest employer with more than 1,200 workers – announced today it will give a $4,160 base wage increase to all current employees and offer COVID-related incentive payment of up to $1,500 for current employees and new hires.
The organization provides at-home care, residential and educational services, day services, and clinical, therapeutic, and behavioral support to more than 1,100 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from across New York State. Springbrook CEO Patricia Kennedy praised the staff’s strength and dedication to their work.
“As a non-profit, Springbrook relies on funding from the state and has endeavored to make every available dollar work for our employees,” she said.
With Christmas only two days away, I am filled with thoughts of family, friendship, and community. But, what is family? How do we define community? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a family is “a social group made up of parents and their children,” and a community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” While these definitions are technically correct, what they fail to include is the joy, the pain, the triumph, the fear, the frustration, and the excitement that we share with the people who we consider our family. Or the many
families and family members who we choose.
Groups from around the world joined in 2012’s inaugural “Giving Tuesday” on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, encouraging people to step outside the more commerce-driven post-holiday “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” and give back to do good in their communities and in the world.
Now an annual event, “Giving Tuesday” takes place this year on November 30.
For those looking to give back right here in Otsego County, we highlight here some organizations to consider:
I recently returned from a much- anticipated vacation with my family. In the weeks and days leading to this vacation, it seemed as if all I could think about was how good it would be to get away—from the house I spent a year living AND working in. From the office I’ve become reacquainted with in the last six months. From vaccination reports, retention reports, vacancy reports, and sick leave reports. Away from Zoom meetings. I couldn’t wait to get away from home!
Springbrook, an organization that provides services and support for the developmentally disabled, held a graduation ceremony at its campus in the town of Milford on Thursday, June 24.
There were 15 graduates, the largest ceremony Springbrook has had, because of the coronavirus pandemic it was held in an outdoor ceremony, which was a first.
Another first included the first set of graduating siblings, Jessica Miller and Stephanie Miller.
Traci Lanner, the residential school director at Springbrook, thanked the parents and staff at Springbrook.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have you here on this campus on this beautiful day,” Lanner said.
She said the graduates spent between three and 11 years at Springbrook. The graduates had a love for music as well as having a “large number of Disney fans” in the group, she said.
Lanner acknowledged the difficulty of COVID but praised the dedication of the staff.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all,” Lanner said, quoting the movie Mulan.
“They don’t always bloom at the same time. … But when they do bloom they are all beautiful,” Lanner said. “I know I speak for the entire staff today that those blooms make us smile and remind us why we do this.”
ONEONTA — Housing and jobs remain high priorities for the city of Oneonta. Both are needed and, according to Mayor Gary Herzig, need to be gradually increased at the same time.
“You can’t have a thriving community, you can’t have a good economy, if you can’t provide people with good housing,” Herzig said.
According to Herzig, housing is “desperately” needed at all levels including low-income, middle-income and high-income.
One of the problems with housing in Oneonta is that it is hard to compete with student rentals if you are a family in need of rental housing.
Herzig said there are “not a lot of incentives” for familyrentals. “We have to be creative with what we do.”
However, there have been some steps taken on the housing front in Oneonta. Most notably, the artist lofts being created on Dietz Street and, more recently, the pending purchase of the Ford Building by Springbrook to create 22 to 24 market rate apartments, which Herzig called a “very exciting project” that he said was certain would be approved by the Common Council.
Mayor Gary Herzig relaxed the mask ordinance in downtown Oneonta during the Common Council Tuesday, June 1. Masks will no longer be required on Main Street.
Also a motion on a payment to Springbrook to build a walk way connecting Main Street to Water Street and the parking garage was passed unanimously. Springbrook is planning a development on Main Street for professional housing.
Otsego Outdoors to offer
summer activities challenge
Otsego2000, the Otsego County Conservation Association and the Otsego Land Trust will offer another outdoor activities badge, this one geared to summer activities.
The activities include hiking, kayaking, cycling, canoeing and more.
Those who successfully complete eight of the 16 activities will be awarded an Otsego Outdoors Summer Octet badge.
If we cement relationships by giving, not getting, Bob Spadaccia’s relationship with Springbrook began in the 1960s when, then a Hartwick College freshman, he and two other new Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity brothers painted at the Upstate Home for Children three Saturdays in a row.
A couple of years later, while still at Hartwick, a deer jumped in front of his car.
“Any chance I can give it to the orphanage?” he asked the investigating trooper.
“Yeah, sure,” was the reply, and the youngsters at the Upstate Home, today greatly expanded into Springbrook, enjoyed stews, venison steaks and other goodies over the winter, thanks to Bob Spadaccia’s largesse.
Bob graduated from Hartwick in 1970, and went on to a successful insurance career, rising to CEO of Fairfield County Bank Insurance Services in Fairfield, Conn.
In the 1990s, he was recruited onto the Hartwick College Board of Trustees, and soon met Seth Haight, a Hartwick grad who had recently joined Springbrook as COO.
Now retiring, Spadaccia still remembers his Hartwick days fondly, and Oneonta. “I got to know a lot of people,” he said, “delivering sandwiches for Jet Subs and Jerry’s.”