COOPERSTOWN – Parking regulations adopted by the Village Board last month put private docks at a competitive disadvantage to the public docks.
Alex Zoeller, a member of the family that owns docks at the foot of Fair Street, raised that contention at this evening’s Village Board meeting, objecting to a trustees’ decision last month allowing all-day parking on Fish Road, but reserving it for the cars of people who have their boats inspected before they launch.
COOPERSTOWN – At the request of the village trustees, Cooperstown Chamber Executive Director Matt Hazzard is alerting his membership to attend upcoming meetings to express their views on four issues: paid parking changes, snow emergencies, trolley stops and flood-damage prevention.
Two public hearings on related laws are planned, at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, and 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, and “the public is strongly encouraged to attend and share their points of view,” said Hazzard.
Hazzard provided these details on the proposed laws:
What began as a petition drive to divert tour buses from River and Lake streets has grown into an effort to ban not only heavy buses but heavy trucks from the “village core.”
The scope widened over the course of collecting 57 signatures, Chip Northrup, River Street, told the Village Board at its July meeting on Monday the 28th. “The village has the opportunity, for the first time, to address this issue more comprehensively,” he said.
He suggested that the village ban the big buses and big trucks, with the exception of school buses, ambulances and trucks making local deliveries, and that tourists be dropped off at the new Blue Lot south of town and take the trolleys or shuttle buses into the village center. Speaking in support of Northrup, neighbor Roger MacMillan, Main Street, pointed out that similar systems are in place on Martha’s Vineyard and Williamsburg.
After some discussion, the Village Board asked Trustee Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, who chairs the Police Committee, to form a task force to study the matter. It will include Police Chief Michael Covert, but also representatives of the Baseball Hall of Fame and perhaps Cooperstown Dreams Park and the tourist industry, said Mayor Jeff Katz.
“From where I sit right now,” Katz said in a follow-up interview, “we recognize the neighbors’ concerns, but to do a spur-of-the-moment rerouting without understanding the ramifications does not seem like a prudent way to go.”
At the meeting, neighbor Jim Howarth, Lake Street, listed three concerns: Damage to infrastructure, congestion and safety. “People are being endangered getting in and out of their cars,” he said. Neighbor and mother of five Jocelyn Wittstein, Fair Street, added, “There are a lot of children in this neighborhood. It’s disheartening to see buses in this community.”
For a few years now, tour buses, including those from Dreams Park, are dropping off riders on Main Street in front of the Hall of Fame, continuing to the stop sign at River, turning left onto that narrow street, turning left again onto narrow Lake Street, then turning left onto Chestnut and heading out of town on Route 28.
When the issue was first raised a couple of years ago, it was suggested that buses continue east on Main Street, cross the Susquehanna, take a right on Estli Avenue, merge onto Route 33 south and turn right on Route 11C to return to Route 28. The streets are wider and that route passes fewer houses, most of which are set back from the road.
At the time, Katz said, the 11C bridge was determined to be too old to accommodate all that heavy traffic. However, it was struck by a truck a year ago April and has been rebuilt, so things have changed. “Ellen’s committee will look at solutions and report to the board,” the mayor said. “The board will then likely make a proposal and schedule a public hearing.”
Meanwhile, in a follow-up e-mail, Northrup said the petition drive will continue to seek more signators “to reduce/ remove highway buses from Village residential streets. If the Dreams Park think they can continue to run highway buses with impunity over the village’s residential streets, they will do so. We cannot let that continue.”