Don't look now, but the former Bresee's building has just cleared another hurdle on its way to becoming an active part of downtown once again.
Last week, the Otsego County Development Corp. named Bloomfield/Schon and Partners of Cincinnati as the developer for the 75,000-square-foot Main Street parcel.
The firm's website states it "specializes in unique sustainable urban opportunities that not only prove successful for the users and investors but are also positive additions to the community."
With such projects to its credit as a restoration of a crumbling factory building that had been named "Blight of the Week" by a local newspaper, the firm seems equipped to face the structural problems in the former department store.
Besides their resume, the developers win points for showing an eagerness to hear the community's input on what would work best in the local marketplace. It's too early to do much speculating about when or how exactly Main Street will shed this particular albatross, but it is heartening to see that a firm with an innovative, environmentally friendly track record will be at the helm of this next phase.
We look forward to another public forum that will help the firm craft a Main Street site that's suited to Oneonta's present as well as its future. Let's ensure that, as a community, we make our voices heard on this matter.
Become informed on gas drilling
Amid the potential of local land being considered for natural-gas drilling is a need for diligence and caution.
The natural-gas folks say there could be big finds underneath the shale in our region, and it's more accessible with modern technology. There's a lot of money to be made, both for the companies and the landowners. And with anxiety levels rising in step with oil prices, landowners would seem to have the upper hand in negotiations.
All this sounds good, for our area and our energy bills. But landowners, especially farmers or former farmers in our area, have their own financial pressures. A drilling company, with its salesmen, lawyers and executives, may be able to persuade an individual, vulnerable landowner to sign over his or her rights at below-market price and without full liability protections.
Now, there's nothing illegal about that, and the onus is on landowners to know what they are signing. But to aid them, what is needed is an organizing force, a regional association or coalition, to represent the interests of affected landowners and provide legal advice.
The Otsego County Farm Bureau is holding a seminar at 7 p.m. Thursday at Unatego Junior-Senior High School. We hope that individual landowners not only inform themselves of the benefits and potential problems of drilling, but find a way to work together to protect themselves and reap whatever benefits this natural-gas boom may bring.