When Dr. Royal F. Netzer, president of the State University College at Oneonta had announced a major expansion of the college over the next several years in October 1962, the city of Oneonta needed to prepare for the expansion as well.
Albert “Sam” Nader was a new mayor that year. Basic needs in the city such as water, sewers and streets needed expansion or repair to meet the growing needs of both SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College, as well as the planned new high school on upper East Street.
For these upcoming changes, Oneonta planned a $1 million capital improvement program and requested that the federal government pay half. For Oneonta to pay its half, Common Council repealed a local law Tuesday, Oct. 30, requiring a mandatory public referendum on any bond issue of more than $100,000.
A few of the streets planned for widening and improvements included West Street, Bugbee Road, and sections of Dietz Street and Ford Avenue near downtown, among others.
Oneonta had been declared a distressed area at the time and became eligible for federal aid under the Public Works Acceleration Program, a bill signed into law by President John F. Kennedy earlier that fall.
There was limited time in which to apply for the aid, so Nader got busy in a hurry.
“When I heard about the program,” Nader said, “we needed a Capital Planning and Budget Commission, which was on my agenda to put together. We had Royal Netzer, Fred Binder, Al Farone, Dr. (Alexander) Carson, Harold deGraw, Sterling Harrington, Dan Bolton and Sid Levine. Those were pretty much the powers in the community. Dr. Carson told me that he’d work to get any resolution through on the needed projects in the city, which he did.”
Binder was then president of Hartwick College, and other commission members were business leaders.