The old rhyme about spring—April showers bring May flowers—was most likely intended to buoy the soggy human sprits of those last muddy weeks of winter, especially in places like Otsego County, where there have historically been only two seasons: winter and Fourth of July.
Now it seems that Otsego County may be more representative of the school-kid joke that followed up on the rhyme—April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”
Now that the parking meters have received their winter covers, it is time to assess the results of summer 2022 in Cooperstown.
The meters, which spring into function on Memorial Day and fall into disuse on Columbus Day, as well as the trolley ridership from the parking lots that surround Cooperstown, represent a good barometer of the town’s commercial health. Using that yardstick as a guide, this summer has proved to be a good exit from the pandemic doldrums.
Based on the parking income, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk was quite encouraged that Cooperstown had bounced back.
“In a good year, we expect gross parking income to reach $450,000. This year we collected $300,000 from the meters and $59,000 from the parking app,” Falk said.
A little over a year ago The Freeman’s Journal put forth an editorial on the subject of electric vehicle chargers, which were at the time pretty scarce within the Village and, in fact, even outside the Village. The reason we explored the local availability of these chargers was, of course, that our tiny historic Village has been, and is, the destination of myriad urban baseball, sports, scenic and music explorers whose mode of transportation to Cooperstown is increasingly an electric or hybrid vehicle. We know this because there are signs of them throughout the Village, many of them silently sitting with silently draining batteries in the parking lots of the hotels, museums and baseball parks.
New York’s governor delivers a state-of-the-state address at the start of each calendar year; the speech a sitting governor gives at the onset of an election year is, however, always something a little different, a little more ambitious in scope.
Such is the case today (January 5) with a brief-by-comparison speech from Governor Kathy Hochul – her first since assuming the mantle after disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down. Hers was an address filled with the usual something-for-everybody on the menu – with very little that any opponents could attack outright. And, the address appears to open the door for discussions on bail reform.
But a state-of-the-state is rather like looking through an annual gift catalog – there are plenty of things in there that one would put on a wish list. Only a few of them stand a chance of showing up when the time for gift-giving arrives.
Summer has come and almost gone here in Cooperstown, and there have been more people visiting us than in 2020. The streets are abuzz with eager baseball fans, casually swinging their newly made bats, avid bike riders waxing eloquently about their explorations of the hills and valleys of Otsego, and lake lovers fresh from a full day on and in the water. The shop owners, lodgings and restaurants have seen an uplift in sales from 2020, and the village has begun to feel a return to post-COVID life. That was then; now, alas, we are in the throes of returning to that COVID life, as the Delta surge runs through us.
If we are lucky though, this, too, shall pass.
Another interesting note is the increase around town of electric vehicles, both locally owned and from afar. The parking lot of the Otesaga is a good place to find them, as are Doubleday parking lot and, until this week, the Dreams Park and the trolley lots. Sleek, somewhat new and multi-colored, the out-of-towners have brought their owners here for a tour of the Hall of Fame, a week at the Dreams Park, some good productions at Glimmerglass, a round of golf, some lake fishing and a visit to the Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall, and they have come from as far away as New York City and Washington, traveling over routes laid out in their respective maps that display the whereabouts of recharging stations along the way.
In May, I watched baseball and softball games across the county.
I saw a cross section of residents, from at least four local communities, most of whom I had not seen for at least 18 months, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some people I had not seen for much longer, because I had been away from sports.
This is probably the least controversial statement I will ever make on the editorial page, and I will let my Southern voice make for effect: it is good to see all y’all.
One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has taken away from us is community. I can understand why it was hard on parishioners when churches were on remote services, because community is a big part of religious groups’ virtues.
The same could be said for sports and arts in the community. I know for us there are plenty of people we mostly see during soccer seasons and have now seen little of for two springs and a fall.
Occasionally we bump into people at the store, or I see a solo family member at a newspaper-related event, but it hasn’t been the same.
A new advertising campaign by www.ThisisCooperstown.com, which is managed by Destination Marketing Corporation, has a focus on outdoor activities with the intention of drawing people to the area post-pandemic.
The website, which now has a page called ‘Get Outside’, will have links to trails, playgrounds and boat rentals among other things.
The summer tourism season begins Memorial Day weekend, with businesses and attractions getting set for a better year now that COVID is beginning to dissipate.
After a run of team cancellations earlier in the year, the Dreams Park baseball camp announced new protocols Monday, May 24.
The baseball camp in Hartwick Seminary will open Friday, July 23, with no restrictions on social distancing or mask wearing. However, they will be requiring a vaccine for all participating children and adults.
Dreams Park said on their website that the 2021 season would be the “first step toward a full reopening in 2022.”
Todd Kenyon, director of communications at the Fenimore Art Museum, said that he was optimistic about the upcoming summer and fall seasons.
“There’s always the unknown, but I can feel that people want to get out,” Kenyon said. “I’m hopeful they visit Cooperstown.”
Otsego County’s tourism efforts are being refocused on outdoor activities, fall weddings and vaccinated out-of-state residents, according to a presentation given to the Otsego County Board of Representatives at its May meeting.
Harrington addressed the Representatives at their meeting, which was held via Zoom, because of the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday, May 5.
She said the group is looking to increase late summer and fall tourism in an effort to boost 2021 bed tax money.
Harrington said her group, which was spun off from the county in 2014 and added Schoharie County as a client two years ago, has shifted to a virtual campaign, allowing it to add several promotional categories and “pages” to its promotional materials.
DMC is launching an outdoor activities website that culls information and links to all the other county locations for hiking, boating, fishing, winter sports and more. Those sites include state parks, Otsego 2000’s Otsego Outdoors website, information about playgrounds, camp sites, hotels and more.
With tourism dealt another pandemic-related blow last week, Otsego County’s leaders are increasingly turning to outdoor adventures to lure visitors.
“We’re actually in the process right now of trying to launch a massive campaign to tout our outdoor adventure,” said Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corporation, which promotes tourism in Otsego and Schoharie counties.
Harrington said the tourism news has been mostly dismal in the week since Cooperstown Dreams Park announced it would require all teams playing at the park’s summer tournaments to be vaccinated for the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertainty of getting vaccinations for children and a hard refund deadline has left dozens of teams in a catch-22, leading to hundreds of reported cancellations.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s winter announcement that it was moving its postponed 2020 Induction Weekend to a virtual event, had already crushed pre-pandemic hopes for a record sized crowd for Derek Jeter’s induction.
However, the reopening of the baseball parks, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta, was a big pillar of the county’s hopes for a renewed summer of tourism. All-Star Village has not announced similar vaccination requirements for its teams, but the Dreams Park changes make its June opening unlikely, Harrington said.
“Now that the bottom fell out with Dreams Park, our accommodations are dealing with a flood of cancellations,” she said. “So, we really need those outdoor visitors more than ever.”
SAFETY – 1:15 p.m. Learn how to travel safely in, outside the country with Diana Nichols. Cooperstown Senior Community Center, behind St. Mary’s Church, 31 Elm St., Cooperstown. email@example.com
OPENING NIGHT – 7 p.m. Returning for a second season, Film Society of Cooperstown presents “All The President’s Men” (1976) with after film discussion led by Will Walker, associate producer of history at CGP. Free, refreshments included. Village Ball Room, 22 Main St., Cooperstown. 607-437-6903 or visit www.facebook.com/FilmSocCoop/