Much has been made of Oneonta's double-whammy loss of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Oneonta Tigers minor league baseball team. Combined with the controversy over the Foothills Performing Arts Center, these losses are disheartening.
However, from where I sit, as a lifelong resident of Oneonta, the future looks bright. In the years since Bresee's Department Store closed, the opening of the long-awaited Clarion Hotel on Main Street seemed the only bright spot among news of baseball camps and Southside chain stores. But now, big things are poised to happen in downtown Oneonta.
The Bresee's restoration project is in progress, with plans to turn the former Main Street hub into a combination of retail, office and apartment space. Just behind Wall Street, which will be revitalized as part of the project, another beloved Oneonta landmark is also undergoing renovations. The Oneonta Theatre's new owners have pledged to restore the historic theater to its former glory and make it a venue for live music of all kinds.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Oneonta World of Learning is working to find space and raise money to establish a children's museum in Oneonta that would celebrate our history as a railroad town and farming community and give kids a fun place to discover, create, explore and play.
This is exciting stuff! Oneonta should capitalize on the momentum generated by these projects and develop new collaborations that tap into our rich community of educators, artists, writers, musicians, dancers and thespians.
Oneonta has the potential to be a regional destination _ not just for residents of the surrounding rural area, but for Cooperstown tourists and day-trippers, too. People will come here not just for the grocery stores and the cheap Made-in-China goods, but for concerts, plays, dance lessons, art shows, literary readings, ethnic food, community festivals and a vibrant Main Street featuring small shops specializing in excellent service and quality merchandise.