Village Seeks Transfer of Acreage
By CASPAR EWIG
Most people have procedures per-formed to re-move an appendix, but the Village of Cooperstown is in the final stages of seeking to acquire one.
On March 22, a special public informational joint session of the Board of Trustees of Cooperstown and the Otsego Town Board will be held to discuss the transfer of just over 9-1/2 acres of land from the Town of Otsego to the Village of Cooperstown. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium of the Cooperstown Central School. At the meeting, members of both boards will explain the scope and purpose of the project and receive and consider public comments.
The thin sliver of land in question, measuring approximately 350’ x 1,200’, is bordered on the east by Linden Avenue south of Walnut Street and on the west by the Leatherstocking Railroad tracks stretching from Bocca Osteria to Ace Hardware to Community Bank. It consists of three parcels, two of which are owned by the Village of Cooperstown. The other belongs to Otsego County. These parcels presently contain a series of municipal buildings, including those housing Cooperstown’s Department of Public Works, finally ending at the Blue Parking Lot.
“The annexation will only result in formalizing the actual realities of the present situation,” Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh stated. “The Village of Cooperstown not only incurred all the engineering and construction costs for the Linden Avenue improvements, but also maintains that property.
“This includes the sidewalk to the school. We clear the snow from the road and sidewalk, repaint the sidewalks each year to ensure pedestrian safety, repave when necessary, mow the grass, and operate the Blue Lot and the public trolley serving that lot.”
As to the latter, the mayor noted that the Cooperstown Intermodal Transit Center Project spent more than $3 million to construct the Linden Avenue Extension parking lot, and village taxpayers took on a 10-year debt obligation of half a million dollars.
“The village also polices and protects the area,” the mayor added, “but not having the land under its jurisdiction creates the curious anomaly that if the police see a violation in the parking lot, for instance, they cannot enforce the rule because they have no jurisdiction.”
Discussion with representatives of the Town of Otsego began in 2018, but during the time it took to survey the property and prepare the proposal, the national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with continuing discussions. Now that life seems to be getting back to normal, both the village and the town considered it a good time to finalize the discussions by having both boards approve the transaction.
Since the parcels are used solely for municipal purposes or, in the case of the railroad tracks, represent land used in an historical trust, the properties are fully tax exempt. Thus, the transfer will not affect the income of either municipality. However, some residents of the Town of Otsego have voiced their concern that if the county should sell its parcel to a private developer, the town would lose the tax income from the commercialization of the property.
When confronted with this opposition, Tillapaugh countered, “While the property tax benefit issue has been raised, any potential for that would certainly be decades in the future. Even if there were a sale, the county would need to address environmental issues, as it is a brownfield site, involving costs and possibly years to engineer and clean up.
“Finally, after all those issues are resolved—and the property sold, returned to the tax rolls and developed—any developer would more than likely seek a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes), so that there would be no tax benefit to any municipality for a minimum of 15 years after the project’s completion,” Tillapaugh added.
Following the joint session, each board will separately consider the issue at their regularly scheduled monthly meetings.
Excellent move. This is where new affordable housing should be built !
Goodby to county highway buildings that are in poor condition due to neglected repairs. This will cost all county taxpayers to build a new garage and offices elsewhere. The County will need to buy land. $$$.