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Columns

June 16, 2014

Changing downtown Oneonta, education made news in June 1984

A new role was emerging for downtown Oneonta. High technology was also emerging as an aid in teaching in Oneonta’s schools. The city mourned in the loss of an OHS grad, working as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. These were all a part of our local life and times during June 1984.

ONE YEAR ‘A.M.,’ DOWNTOWN STILL THRIVED

After finally abandoning the concept of urban renewal to turn downtown Oneonta into a retail shopping magnet in recent years, the city turned to new ideas to revitalize the city’s business district in the early 1980s.

“It’s one year A.M.— after mall,” said Joseph Bernier, the city’s community development director. “Downtown has survived. That is because we have tried to diversify,” he told The Daily Star on Thursday, June 14.

The Southside Mall went into business in August 1983 amid predictions that it would devastate Oneonta’s downtown. Bernier said downtown was still thriving because of a conscious effort to diversify its use among retail trade, government and professional offices and housing.

Bernier had found in a recent building survey that in the little-used upper floors of downtown buildings there was enough space to contain 100 new apartments. The city was formulating an application under the Small Cities Jobs Bill Program for funding to assist in converting the empty space into housing for local college students, the elderly and working professionals.

Some downtown building owners had already seen some success in housing, such as the former Spaulding Bakery building on Market Street and over the Autumn Café at 244 Main St.

Living in downtown Oneonta soon after saw an upturn in popularity.

STUDENTS GO ‘WILD’ OVER SAFETY ROBOT

Teaching personal safety to students in Oneonta’s elementary schools took a new twist on Wednesday, June 13. Instead of a lecture by a city police officer, the Oneonta Police Department introduced “K-2-4,” the talking safety robot.

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