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News of Otsego County

Village of Cooperstown

ROBBINS-SOHNS: Village money should improve lives of villagers

LETTER from MARY-MARGARET ROBBINS-SOHNS

Village money should improve lives of villagers

In regard to the pier in the lake “viewing deck,” I urge the Board of Trustees to stop spending money on tourist attractions. Rather focus on our neglected community. Sidewalks, piers, etc., don’t make a village.

Its people do.

The viewing deck/dock may sound fun, but it provides little to the community. It is not environmentally friendly and poses numerous liability issues, not to mention potentially risking our
water source. Oh, and the maintenance.

Covid-19 had a harsh impact on many members of our community mentally and physically. We have a lack of outdoor play spaces and a lack of areas where older adults have the ability to enjoy children at play. I must point out that the community would greatly benefit if these funds were spent on our children and adults. A better playground, two tennis courts/basketball courts located on the mutually owned village, Clark Foundation and school land. Or even a summer art program by the lake once a week directed by one of our marvelous not-for-profits. We need to focus on building a better community to attract and retain our healthcare workers and serve all walks of life.

The voters and taxpayers are provided so little. Stop looking gift horses in the mouth We are in fact throwing money in the lake!

The people living in the village matter too! Stop broad stroking projects because they feel good. Think about the citizens who probably are most likely unaware of this project as it was not in The Freeman’s Journal.

Let’s serve those who serve us!

Working for mindful spending and a stronger community,

Mary-Margaret E. Robbins-Sohns
Cooperstown

 

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

Death certificates lead to Coop-Otsego dispute

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Tillapaugh

A financial dispute over dead people has left officials in the village of Cooperstown and town of Otsego frustrated with one another.

The disagreement stems from services performed by the registrar of vital statistics, which is a job village officials perform town-wide. Registrar duties include birth and death certificates. While there are some births outside of the village, most are at Cooperstown’s Bassett Medical Center.

However, it is the deaths outside of the village boundaries that have been costly to Cooperstown. According to materials provided at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday, July 26, the cost of providing death certificates to town residents has cost the village anywhere from about $1,300 annually to a recent high of $2,900 in 2015 when there were 290 death certificates prepared for residents outside of the village.

As per the old agreement, the town pays $250 annually and gets remitted the fees for certificates from its residents.

Kiernan

The village must keep and maintain the records, but Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said it is not adding up for village residents. “This is not sustainable,” she said. “This is a village tax, subsidizing service for the town of Otsego.”

Our View: Move forward on housing in Cooperstown

Our View

Move forward on
housing in Cooperstown

One would like to believe that Cooperstown, once referred to as “America’s Favorite Hometown,” is a thriving, dynamic community.

A walk down Main Street in July or August, with crowds of people swarming the streets and shops, would suggest that it is indeed as billed. The same walk in January or February, with darkened, shuttered store fronts and empty parking spaces, would offer a very different impression.

When the remarkable increase in the country’s taste for baseball and its memorabilia in the late ’80s and ’90s dramatically altered Cooperstown’s Main Street, with baseball-themed shops largely established and managed by non-local proprietors replacing the mixed-use, community-based businesses run by local residents for 200 years, Cooperstown’s business district turned a very unfortunate corner.

With the advent of the “Cooperstown” baseball camps, located in Hartwick and Oneonta, people began to buy, convert and even build area housing to cash in on an extremely lucrative weekly summer rental market. That housing is in many cases owned by non-local, absentee landlords who make enough of a killing in the summer to allow them to sit vacant for the long off-season months. In a few years, the availability of housing in and around the Village became as hopeless as a Main Street parking space in summer.

Joseph S. Harris, 64 Middlefield town supervisor; also cared for Doubleday Field for 33 years.

In Memoriam

Joseph S. Harris, 64
Middlefield town supervisor; also
cared for Doubleday Field for 33 years.

Joseph S. Harris

Middlefield – Joseph S. Harris, 64, of Middlefield, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday May 25, 2021. He was born on Sept. 20, 1956 in Oneida, NY, the son of William and Barbara Harris. He graduated from Cooperstown Central School. He worked for the Village of Cooperstown, where he took care of his pride and joy, Doubleday Field, for 33 years before retiring. He also spent many years working for local farms. After his retirement, he devoted many hours to public service as the Town of Middlefield Supervisor. He also worked for American Wholesalers and Stocking Stalls.

Joseph married Jean N. McCauley on October 25, 1980. They made many memories together, while enjoying their time camping and being with their family and closest friends. He belonged to Wedocandors Club, where he enjoyed many hunting memories with his son, son-in-law, and club members. He also was an avid hunter, who spent many opening days with his son and daughter.

Cooperstown will halt enforcement of mask ordinance

Cooperstown will
halt enforcement
of mask ordinance

By Greg Klein • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Josh Edmonds shows design plans for a property at 10 Chestnut St., during a Board of Trustees meeting Monday, May 24, in Cooperstown. (Greg Klein/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – The village of Cooperstown will stop enforcing its mask mandate as it waits for the state to rescind Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders on the coronavirus pandemic.

The village’s Board of Trustees debated the issue at the end of a three-hour meeting Monday, May 24, in the village board room at 22 Main St., but decided against calling a public hearing on revoking the statute, which was passed in August.

The trustees voted unanimously to remove mask ordinance signs from in and around the village and to relax enforcement of the law. Trustee Richard Sternberg was not at the meeting.

Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri said he has heard the executive orders on the pandemic will be revoked July 1.

Because the village needs time to advertise a public hearing, and because there are several already scheduled for the trustees meeting Monday, June 28, Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh said the trustees could simply take the mask ordinance signs down and let it be known that enforcing it is no longer a priority for village officials. He called it a “tacit acknowledgement.”

Cooperstown & Around: May 13, 2021

Cooperstown & Around

Hartwick to hold Clean Sweep

The Town of Hartwick will hold its 2021 Clean Sweep event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Hartwick Town Hall, at 103 Town Drive in the hamlet of Hartwick. The event is part of Hartwick Appreciation Day.
Residents will be able to dispose of their old house furniture, scrap metal and yard trash. the first load of trash will be $20 with additional loads being $10.
Call Town Clerk Andrea Vazquez at 607-293-8123 to make arrangements. Pickups are for Hartwick residents only with proof of residency required.


Hearing scheduled on apartments

The Board of Trustees of the Village of Cooperstown will have a public hearing at 7 p.m., Monday, May 24, at 22 Main St.to discuss a proposed special use permit for a 13 unit multi-family residence at 10 Chestnut St.
The plans for the project are on file in the village office and can be viewed Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public comments can also be provided by email to jutter@cooperstownny.org.

NORTHRUP: Proposed apartments better than existing eyesores

LETTER from CHIP NORTHRUP

Proposed apartments better than existing eyesores

To the Editor:

A new apartment building has been proposed at 10 Chestnut between Main and Lake. Simple Integrity proposed much the same thing two years ago. I was the only person at the hearing that spoke in favor of it—on the simple premise that what they proposed was clearly an improvement on what’s there now—a dilapidated building.

The first and foremost utilitarian test on the redevelopment of property in the village should be that if it’s better than what it replaces, the village should look favorably on it—because if the application is denied, what’s there now will remain a useless hole in the tax rolls. There is no practical mechanism in the village to tear down derelict structures, so the village has a lifetime supply of neglected buildings that will remain neglected until someone proposes to remodel or replace them with something better. When that happens, the trustees should work with the proponent on the proposal— provided it’s allowed within the zoning ordinance—since the alternative is for the buildings to remain eyesores.

Chip Northrup
Cooperstown

LWV applauds girls who planned Asian rally

LETTER from LIANE HIRABAYASHI

LWV applauds girls
who planned Asian rally

To the Editor:

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area would like to applaud Jaina Bischof, Cate Bohler, Charlotte Feury, Riley Fillion, Elizabeth Hughes, Olivia Lowenguth, Maya Pandit, who, with the support of their families and friends, organized the Otsego Rally for Solidarity with Asian Americans on Sunday, May 2, in Cooperstown. These students’ activism is fully aligned with the League of Women Voters’ goal to create a stronger, more inclusive democracy.

Such outstanding civic leadership and teamwork is an inspiration to all of us to commit ourselves to combating racism through character, intelligence, and compassion. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child; in this case it is these teenagers who have raised the Village of Cooperstown to a new level of community engagement with this highly charged issue. With the shining example of these students to light our way, let us continue this important and good work of making Cooperstown, as Dr. Namita Singh put it so well in her speech at the rally, the “all-American village” of this century: one that celebrates our nation’s diverse cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious roots and on these strong foundations remains a thriving, vibrant community.

Liane Hirabayashi
Co-president, Cooperstown Area League of Women Voters

Trustees Agree To Remove Sign That Angered Residents

Trustees Agree To Remove
Sign That Angered Residents

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A solar-powered speed limit sign on Pioneer Street that village residents disliked will be moved to State Route 28.

The village of Cooperstown will remove a controversial solar-powered speed limit sign from Pioneer Street.

The village’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday, April 26, to remove the sign, which was in front of 100 Pioneer Street and told motorists heading south on Pioneer if they were exceeding the village’s 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.

The meeting was held in person in the village ballroom at 22 Main St.

As part of the motion, the trustees agreed to relocate the sign to the southern entryway to the village on State Route 28.

The sign has drawn complaints from dozens of current and former village residents, complaining about the aesthetics of the sign and dismissing the need to put it in a residential area. Two residents spoke against the sign Monday, leading Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh to tell the crowd of about 15 people that the trustees would fix the sign problem later in the meeting.

“The intent of the meeting tonight will be to remove the solar-powered sign … and nothing will be on Pioneer.

WALLER: Point – Give Federal Largesse To You, Me
ISSUE & DEBATE

POINT: Give Federal
Largesse To You, Me

Editor’s Note: This is citizen Bill Waller’s recommendation in a March 29 letter to the Cooperstown Village Board on how to spend its expected share from the $1.9 trillion Biden Stimulus Plan.

BILL WALLER

Dear Mayor Tillapaugh and the Board of Trustees;

I read with interest statements relating to the benefits coming to Cooperstown from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP). According to press accounts, this could be nearly $350,000.

In reviewing the proposed 2021-2022 Village of Cooperstown Budget, I did not see any amount referencing the ARP disbursement. This is entirely understandable since the act has just passed, well after all the budget discussions held by the Board of Trustees.

As this is budget enactment time, I would like to express my opinion as to how these funds should be spent when they arrive.

…I would like to make a radical proposal: Give it back to the residents.

In this year’s proposed budget $1,779,194.00 is listed as the expected income from Village property taxes. I would urge adoption of the budget and then when the ARP funds are received, issuing a rebate check to our Village taxpayers. I would propose 10% of the taxes levied be sent back to every Village property owner as COVlD Relief. This would only cost $177,919.40.

While this may seem a radical proposal, I remind you that no one opposed the $600 and $1,400 checks mailed from the Federal Government. I feel that no matter how small an individual’s Village COVlD Relief may be, it will be well received. It would also be innovative, creative and will reward our Village residents for their endurance during the past year. And other than the massive error on the part of Otsego County Government resulting in 20% tax rebates a few years ago, when has a local municipality rewarded their residents by sending some of their money back?

ARP regulations stipulate that the funds cannot be used to reduce taxes, but they can be used to “offset the impact to households” caused by the pandemic. This would be a fair way to lessen the impact.

I know the Village Board could find many ways to spend the ARP money, giving some of it directly to residents would have a big impact.

Creative minds could even come up with a letter accompanying the relief check noting worthwhile community projects very willing to accept the resident’s donated refund if they so choose.

I hope you will consider my proposals at this opportune time as part of your budget discussions.


COUNTERPOINT: Village
Suffered Real Losses

… and this is Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s April 5 response:

Mayor Tillapaugh

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your letter of March 29 pertaining to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and your recommendations to the Village of Cooperstown on the use of the funds which we will receive.

…On March 23, Congressman Delgado held an information meeting concerning the ARP and provided more accurate funding information. He indicated the exact amount of ARP funds which the Village will receive is unclear at this time.

The U.S. Treasury will be determining the distribution of funds and will be providing that guidance to New York State, which will receive the funds for townships and Villages. The state will dispense them to the respective township which will in turn remit them to Villages. Our share will be based on our population percentage within the township.

One half of the funds will be provided this year and one half 12 months after the legislation is signed. General estimates at this time indicate we may receive approximately $120,000 within the next several months and a similar sum next year.

In budget year 2020-21, the Village of Cooperstown had an $800,000 decrease in revenues – from paid parking, sales tax, chips, and Doubleday Field rentals.

In reviewing the proposed 2021-22 VOC Budget, hopefully you realized that the Village Board did indeed fund an additional full-time police officer. We made this public safety commitment to our community, even though the funds we ultimately will receive from the ARP are only a fraction of the lost revenues due to the pandemic.

As for returning funds to taxpayers, the Village has not increased the property tax levy of $1,779,194 since 2013. Eight years of no increase in the tax levy is our support of Village property owners.

No Helicopter, But Army Reservists Back in County For Training

No Helicopter, But Reservists

Back in County For Training

As mayor of a fictitious village, CGP Professor Cindy Falk leads reservists in a training exercise outside Coopers- town. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

For the sixth time in seven years, the Cooperstown Graduate Program has coordinated with the Army Reserves to do field training in the Cooperstown area.

According to CGP Professor Cindy Falk, about 30 soldiers from Fort Drum, six cadets from Syracuse University and six CGP students from her Culture and Collections class worked together on training exercises over a three-day weekend, from Thursday, March 25, to Saturday, March 27.

“We did what we have been doing since 2015,” Falk said. “We just had to do it differently this year.”

To accommodate coronavirus restrictions, the group had a hard cap of 50, Falk said, and the soldiers, cadets and students were kept apart as much as possible to avoid any health issues.

Beginning Thursday, March 25, the soldiers – reservists from the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion’s Alpha Company in Syracuse – did classroom training, with a remote seminar from Bassett Healthcare Network officials and in person lectures from the CGP and Fort Drum officials.

On Friday, the soldiers and cadets worked on a mass casualty and evacuation drill.

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Benton, Now Bergene, Trustees Under Age 30

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bergene

Newly elected Village Trustee Hannah Bergene was already sold on Cooperstown.

But her first Induction Weekend working for the Chamber of Commerce – in 2015, the Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez year – she got sold all over again.

Baseball fans were jammed onto the front steps of Chamber headquarters in that yellow-and-white cottage at 31 Chestnut St., trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes passing by in the Legends of the Game parade.

“They were so in awe,” said Bergene. “They had waited all their lives to come here. We” – who live here – “take it for granted.”

She maintained that excitement for her five years at the Chamber, where she rose to marketing director under Executive Director Matt Hazzard, and for the past two years as social media director at Paperkite Creative, the Internet marketing firm.

Tuesday, March 16, Bergene and Trustee Cindy Falk, the deputy mayor, ran unopposed and received 139 and 136 votes respectively. Both are Democrats.

She ran, Bergene said in an interview Saturday, March 13, “because Mac asked me too” – Trustee Mac Benton, 23, who with County Democratic Chairman Clark Oliver, 22, have been recruiting young people here, in Oneonta and countywide to run for office.

The new trustee, her interest piqued by her work at the Chamber of Commerce, had considered elected office at some point, but “in my mind, it was years in the future.

“But why not? Why not get involved?” she asked herself. “The village needs young people to attract other young people here.”

MEBUST: Democratic Chair – Vote Bergene, Falk
LETTER from LYNNE MEBUST

Democratic Chair – Vote Bergene, Falk

To the Editor:

Tuesday, March 16, is Election Day in the Village of Cooperstown, and I encourage all residents to come out to the fire hall on Chestnut Street between noon and 9 p.m. to vote for Cynthia Falk and Hanna Joy Bergene for village trustee.

Cindy has served the village for several years as trustee and deputy mayor and is seeking re-election. Her service, experience and record of success have been exemplary, and her willingness to continue to serve deserves our strong support.

Hanna Joy is a newcomer representing a generation vital to the future of our village. Her commitment to the community combined with her business and marketing experience make her uniquely qualified to add her voice to the village leadership.

The Cooperstown Democratic Committee is proud to have nominated both Cindy and Hanna Joy for election as village trustee. Please take the time to come out on Tuesday and support them both.

LYNNE MEBUST
Chair, Cooperstown
Democratic Committee

Village, County, City Completing Review Of Police Procedures

Village, County, City Completing

Review Of Police Procedures

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

With April 1 a few weeks away, it’s crunch time.

Following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last spring, Governor Cuomo issued an order requiring all 330 communities in New York State with police departments to form Community Advisory Boards to review “policies and procedures” by that date.

That covers three governments in Otsego County:

• The Village of Cooperstown: Monday, Feb. 22, the Village Board approved its “Police Reform Plan” more than a month ahead of schedule, having completed the review and taking it to public hearing. The findings can now be forwarded to the Governor’s Office.

Cooperstown Police Advisory Board Plans First Meeting Today

Cooperstown Police

Advisory Board Plans

First Meeting Today

COOPERSTOWN – The first meeting of Cooperstown’s Community Advisory Board on policing is at 5 p.m. today in the Village Hall ballroom, and open to the public.

The CAB was mandated by Governor Cuomo, after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and the resulting unrest.  The board must review Village Police Department policies and procedures and forward its recommendations to Albany next April l.

Members include:

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103