CATHERINE LAKE ELLSWORTH
In These Otsego Hills
— As regular readers of this column no doubt know, we have from time to time of late, lamented what we perceive as a decline in the village’s sense of community.
For whatever reason, issues facing this area have seemed to become very divisive often pitting friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor.
Thus it was with great interest that we read, two weeks ago now, a letter to the editor from Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz. It seems the mayor and the board are working on plans for a “Celebrate Cooperstown” weekend in October which we think might well work towards a goal of restoring Cooperstown’s sense of community.
We were particularly intrigued by the suggestion to hold a Main Street “open house” to allow the residents of the area to visit all the various Main Street business to discover just what is available in Cooperstown. We tend to think people might well be surprised with what they might learn. Too often, we think, Main Street is dismissed as being nothing but baseball and we tend to think that is simply not true.
Over the years we have tried to keep track of what business is where in Cooperstown. We suspect, when we were more mobile, we were better at this particular task. In fact, when we read the mayor’s suggestion, we remembered making a similar suggestion in this column some years ago, in 2000 to be exact.
In our column of June 22, 2000, we made note of the fact that Jean Lyon, of Eagle Street, had shared with us several brochures she had acquired on a trip she had taken to Lowell, Massachusetts. One of these brochures was entitled “Be a Tourist in our Town” and, we thought, geared to getting locals to find out what there really was to see in Lowell. We then noted: “Cooperstown does have each year Cooperstown Day where the locals can visit the various museums, but we do not think there is a similar opportunity to really get to know Main Street. We have long argued that there is really much more to Main Street than ‘just baseball’ and we would love to have the opportunity to participate in a ‘Shop Cooperstown Day’ at some point in the year. Obviously the summer months are out, but we do think it might work very well in the early spring or late fall.”
Later that year, in our column of Oct. 26, we firmed up our idea of sharing our annual fall traipse around downtown by noting that “...on Friday, Nov. 10 we invite any and all interested persons to meet at the entrance to Doubleday Field parking lot at 10 a.m. .. At some point we will take in lunch and then continue our stroll.”
We asked that anyone interested in joining us to let us know. Unfortunately, as with so many things, all did not go exactly as planned. In fact, our report in the column of Nov.22 on the events of Nov. 10 read: “We are sorry to report that our planned ‘Cooperstown Walk About’ which was to be held on Friday, Nov. 10 was a victim of Mother Nature. Four of the five people who expressed an interest in participating, canceled out because of the rainy weather. And, since there were only two of us at the entrance to Doubleday Field parking lot at 10 a.m., we decided to go for coffee instead. So the ‘Cooperstown Walk About’ became very quickly the ‘Cooperstown Sit Around’.”
Thus we are indeed hopeful that the plans for this year’s Main Street “Open House” fare better than ours did in 2000. And we also hope that we will find we will be able to participate in the event.
Other plans that were outlined by the mayor for the “Celebrate Cooperstown” included food. We are, of course, always in favor of events which include food. And while we must admit we are somewhat uncertain as to the details of the proposed food events, we would point out that our experience, both with the annual Upper Pioneer Street block party, which we attend, and the Eagle Street block party, about which we receive reports for this column, have been most positive.
In fact, we would like to suggest consideration might be given to including in the festivities a village of Cooperstown block party where residents could gather for food and fellowship. Granted we suspect it would be difficult to coordinate a potluck meal for such an event. But we do think it might be possible to include a village picnic, with the participants bringing their own picnic basket of goodies, at some point during the weekend.
Certainly, the village sports several locations, with Doubleday Field and Lakefront Park coming instantly to mind, which might work well for such an event. And it certainly would not, we would think, interrupt any of the food events already proposed.
We would like to thank the mayor and the village board for proposing the concept of “Celebrate Cooperstown.” And we would hope that the festivities would help foster a sense of community. We well remember the sense of community that the village had when we moved here in 1982. And quite frankly, we miss it.
In fact, we have concluded that what we see as a noticeable division in the community has proven to be somewhat less than pleasant. In fact, at times it is downright annoying. However, we still think we should be able to disagree on issues without being disagreeable. And we would like to think that an event like “Celebrate Cooperstown” would start a process to rejuvenate that sense of community that we have enjoyed for years. Cooperstown is indeed a special place and it is not a bad idea at all that, from time to time, we get together to remind ourselves of that.
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