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Columns

May 10, 2014

Paving Oneonta's streets became controversial in 1889

“The bill authorizing the village of Oneonta to bond for $20,000 for the purpose of paving certain streets, was signed by the Governor Monday. Now for business, gentlemen.”

This item came from The Oneonta Daily News of Wednesday, May 8, 1889, urging the Oneonta village Board of Trustees to act on getting most of Main and Broad Streets, and small sections of Chestnut and Dietz Streets paved. The issue had been hotly debated in recent years, and several methods of paving had been explored within the last year, to once and for all overcome the annual seasons of mud Oneonta endured in the center city business district.

Debate apparently wasn’t over with and the delays in getting the work started were plentiful in the coming months.

The Daily News reported on Thursday, May 9, that, “One of the board of trustees was heard to express himself yesterday unfavorable to a pavement that would not utilize home labor. This is all very nice as far as it goes. The people voted in the first place to put down Belgian block pavement. They knew at the time that there was not a man in Oneonta that knew how to lay Belgian pavement, and that is also the case with every pavement submitted thus far. The manufacturers of the different processes have their men who learn the business. These they send with the contractor.

“The board of trustees has had ample time to decide on the kind of pavement. If you need the people to decide that question, call another election.”

Apparently that wasn’t necessary. As reported in the May 13 Daily News, “A delegation of the Board of Trustees…took the sleeper Sunday morning for Buffalo on a tour of inspection of the different methods of pavement. They will also visit New York before returning.” They also stopped along the way to inspect pavement in Rochester and Utica. Asphalt was used in these cities, as the delegation gave a report on May 19.

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