Cooperstown to debate mask mandate

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh speaks during the Village Board of Trustees meeting Monday, July 27, in the Village Ballroom at 22 Main St.Greg Klein | The Daily Star

COOPERSTOWN — The village of Cooperstown will hold a public hearing on a mask wearing ordinance at a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, in the Village Ballroom at 22 Main St. 

The Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to set the hearing at its monthly meeting Monday, July 27.

Although the meeting was broadcast on the village’s YouTube channel, it was held in the ballroom and open to the public. Five members of the public attended, and two asked questions about the potential law. 

The trustees last held a meeting open to the public Monday, Feb. 27. The coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to put a temporary halt to open-meeting laws, allowing the trustees and other local governments to meet via Zoom or other teleconference methods.

With that order expiring Wednesday, Aug. 5, the trustees decided to hold an open meeting in the ballroom, where social distancing is possible. 

Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh said the proposed law was necessary because of a large number of complaints about people downtown not using masks or social distancing. He said the village’s attempts to allow tables for outdoor vending and dining mean there is no effective way to get six feet apart from people in many downtown spaces. Narrow areas on the sidewalks, benches and planters also make it difficult, he said. 

Tillapaugh said the law largely follows state law and Cuomo’s executive orders on the subjects. The exception is the village will mandate mask-wearing in the downtown business district, which the law defines as Main Street from River Street to Pine Boulevard and Pioneer Street from Lake Street to Fair Street.

There are exceptions to the mask-wearing requirement, Tillapaugh said, including: drivers, children less than 2 years old; people who can not wear a mask for health reasons; and people sitting down eating and drinking. 

Tillapaugh said not complying with the law is a civil violation. State law allows for fines of up to $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for businesses. However, he said town justices assign the amount for fines and the village is not involved in that process after issuing a citation.

Village Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said one village business had been cited for violating state health regulations. She did not name the business. 

WKTV reported Friday, July 24, that Cooley’s Stonehouse Tavern was cited for an unspecified violation after a state inspection May 29. 

Recommended for you