‘Transformation’ Near, Hochul Says



Near, Hochul Says

Cuomo Administration Approves

All Of Oneonta’s $10M Proposal

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul greets state Sen. Jim Seward, right, and other VIPs on entering Foothills’ upstairs theater early this afternoon. When she thinks of Oneonta, she said, she envisions how her hometown, Hamburg, was able to revitalize its downtown after the steel mills left Buffalo in the early 1980s, devastating Western NY. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Mayor Herzig welcomes Lieutenant Governor Hochul to the podium. At left is SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski; at right, county Democratic chair Richard Abbate.

ONEONTA – The whole thing.

Pretty much everything the Oneonta DRI Planning Committee asked for will be funded through $10 million pledged by the Cuomo Administration, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul told an upbeat gathering at 12:30 today in Foothills’ upstair theater.

“At the end of the day, this community will be transformed,” Hochul said of the DRI, (which stands for downtown redevelopment initiative).

The $10 million did not include an additional $4 million already received for the Food & Beverage Innovation Center planned on the Twelve Tribes’ site at the foot of Chestnut Street.

The lieutenant governor divided today’s news into four categories:

  • The Westcott lot, where 27-31 one- and two-bedroom apartments are planned in a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot building, plus a “small public plaza” and a “pedestrian passage” connecting Main and South Main streets. Leveraging the public money with private investment, in the end, will create $50 million in new construction, Mayor Gary Herzig said.
  • Upgrading existing buildings on Oneonta’s Victorian Main Street, renovating store fronts and upper floors through a $600,000 revolving-loan fund, plus micro-grants for signage. Downtown landlord Seth Clark, who attended today’s session, reacted, “Interesting! I’m very happy.”
  • Repair of the 480-space parking garage and adding a “transit hub,” a public walkway between Muller Plaza and Water Street, and “boardwalk” from Market to Water.
  • This is new: A branding and marketing effort to promote the City of the Hills to the outside world, plus signage to replace the faded, half-century old ones at entrances to the city, plus consistent signage to direct visitors to the downtown, “clusters” within the city, and parking.

“This is a new day.  This is a new era,” Hochul predicted.

While much of what was announced is not new, the lieutenant governor was affirming that a planning process begun last September has succeeded in its goal:  creating a roadmap to arriving at the destination, “Authentically Oneonta.”

The steering committee, led by Mayor Herzig, included select Council members and City Hall departments heads, both college presidents, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and leading citizens ranging from Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner, to Springbrook’s Patricia Kennedy, Community Bank Vice President Jeffrey Lord, Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan and others.

The committee worked with a consulting firm, Stantec of New York City, to develop a plan that was then forwarded to the Cuomo Administration in February for final review and approval.  Hochul’s announcement means the planning process was a complete success.

That said, not all the projects discussed during the planning process survived the steering committee decisionmaking.  For instance, a boutique motel in the Bettiol lot, the reinvention of Stella Luna on a beer theme, the merger of Foothills Performing Arts Center and Family Y into an entertainment/health-club hub, and the restoration of the Oneonta Theater didn’t make it in this round.  (The last line of Hochul’s press release detailing the project provides a link on how to apply for a “second round” of DRI funding.)

Herzig intends to get some of that money.  There will be ribbon-cuttings, Herzig told Hochul: “Bring your new scissors.”


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