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Guest Column

February 2, 2013

All downtown Oneonta lacks is you

In December, I had the chance with a few others to spend two hours with Rep. Chris Gibson talking exclusively about Oneonta, where we fit in regionally and our many opportunities.

Among those opportunities are our arts and entertainment communities and facilities. We talked about that in the context of the expanding Southside, our excellent range of restaurants, expanding hotels and the need to bring more retail to Main Street to enhance Oneonta as a destination.

We talked too about the railyards, Ioxus, and the potential for manufacturing expansion, but most of our focus was on our downtown arts and entertainment infrastructure based around nonprofit organizations. Together, they offer extraordinary opportunities to our residents and enhance Oneonta as a destination for visitors. The stronger each is, the stronger all are in total.

The Community Arts Network of Oneonta (CANO, formally UCCCA) is a hub for artists, shows and exhibitions. Plans are under way for a badly needed exterior building restoration.

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society is our museum, and its unusual location on Main Street makes it a walk-in site for both residents and visitors. Expansion to the upper floors is underway and will accelerate.

On top of Tom Cormier’s extraordinary efforts to rescue the Oneonta Theatre, Friends of the Oneonta Theatre has announced it will assume responsibility for the Theatre’s condition and operation. Some suggest this is competitive with the interests of Foothills, but in reality, there has been little competition between the two facilities and I see a successful Oneonta Theatre as entirely complementary to Foothills’ role.

Foothills has now established itself as a center not only for a wide range of performances, but also events and rehearsals for dozens of other organizations addressing needs of both adults and young people. Over the last two years, Foothills has averaged more than five events per week. The facility is largely complete, but will always need operating support.

Why write all this? The community’s support of the four entities mentioned above, with donations, volunteer efforts and event attendance, is much more than an investment in each of their individual successes. It is an investment in the community’s success.

Come downtown, shop, dine and enjoy the arts. Your visit will enhance all our lives.

Dick Miller is mayor of the city of Oneonta.

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