The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Columns

August 5, 2013

Oneonta railroad traditions shifted in August 1958

(Continued)

Mr. Schomo’s words rang somewhat true in Oneonta in August 1958, when the D&H Railroad announced it was closing and selling its passenger depot, today’s Stella Luna Ristorante on Market Street. The Star reported on Monday, Aug. 18, that a new passenger office was set to open in the freight house, now apartments at the corner of Market Street and James Georgeson Avenue. That office was closed in early 1963 after the D&H eliminated passenger service.

Oneonta Common Council expressed interest in the 1892 depot, as a multiple use building. Among the possible uses mentioned were a bus terminal and central taxi stand, as well as a recreation center or the previously mentioned railroad museum.

The city dropped out as a bidder on the depot when they found out the selling price, $35,000. The building was eventually purchased and served multiple purposes until it became a restaurant in 2000.

On Aug. 27, the D&H asked the New York State Public Service Commission for the right to dispense with a crossing watchman at the Gas Avenue crossing, known now as James Georgeson Avenue. Carmen Mastro, a D&H employee since 1911, had been a crossing watchman for years, on duty most days from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

“In his place,” the Star said, “D&H wishes to install short arm crossing gates and flashing light signals.”

The PSC heard protest from the City of Oneonta at a hearing in September.

City Attorney John K. Dunn said he was concerned about pedestrian safety, with many of those pedestrians being children coming and going to Neahwa Park’s recreational facilities.

“Oneonta feels,” Dunn said, “that children have a tendency to ignore signals and are more inclined to obey orders of a person in charge such as a crossing guard.”

Mastro’s job was safe for the time, but not for much longer.

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