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November 5, 2012

Notable construction projects got started in November 1977

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The Daily Star

---- — They may be only 35 years old or younger, but many buildings and construction projects we know in the modern era across our region got their start on the drawing board or in groundbreaking events during the month of November 1977.

Right off the City Life page of The Daily Star on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1977, came word that the Oneonta Capital Budget and Planning Commission had unanimously approved a proposed 36-unit housing complex for the site of the old River Street School. We know the complex as the Oak Square Apartments today.

That same day it was reported a Schenectady architectural firm hired by the city, Felbes and Schmitt, recommended that a new fire station should be built at 79-81 Main St., near the corner of Market Street. At that time it was a lot owned by Oneonta Sales Co., an automotive dealer on Market Street. Likewise, the firm suggested the old post office at 258 Main St. should become the new city hall.

“Its excellent architectural quality and fine visible location should make it deserving of the most serious consideration,” the architect’s report suggested.

Both the former fire station and city hall were then found at 242 Main St. The new city hall opened in late 1980 and the new fire station in 1981.

It was reported Saturday, Nov. 12, that Kmart would build in Sidney, creating 100 jobs when it opened the next year, on Delaware Avenue. Kmart was part of a planned plaza of several stores. By June 1994, Kmart opened a much larger store in a new plaza at 171 Delaware Ave., a short distance west. The old plaza has remained abandoned and deteriorating in recent years.

Contractors for three sections of Interstate 88 in Schoharie County were moving on site that month to build about 20 miles of the new road, to be completed in 1980. Relocating a few miles of state Route 10 and diverting two sections of Cobleskill Creek were among the larger tasks in the coming years.

In the midst of a short blizzard Friday, Nov. 18, what was then called Delhi Tech broke ground for a new $5 million agricultural science building. College President Dr. Francis Hennessy hailed the project as offering college students “hands-on” experience in simulated working experiences in agriculture, plant science and veterinary technology.

The new two-story building was planned to house 10 specialized laboratories, behind the Farrell Hall gymnasium. The completion was planned for November 1979.

Back in Oneonta, it was reported Wednesday, Nov. 23, that the congregation of the Elm Park Methodist Church had accepted final plans for construction of a new $450,000 church building, at the corner of Chestnut Street and Ceperley Avenue.

The average attendance at weekly services had doubled from 100 to 200 people since 1970. “The new church is needed,” the Rev. Rees Warring said at the time. The new church would also serve as a community center, serving various needs in the West End of Oneonta.

Only a few blocks away from the new church, the Capital Budget and Planning Commission recommended approval Monday, Nov. 28, for a proposed Ponderosa Steak House at 335-337 Chestnut St. Ponderosa had been in the West End until it closed Nov. 7, 2011, and is currently under reconstruction as a new locally owned restaurant, planned for an opening in the spring of 2013.

This weekend: Construction began in 1887 for an improved Oneonta church.

City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark @stny.rr.com.