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New Oneonta mayor delivers first state of the city address

Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek
City of Oneonta
Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek

Oneonta's new mayor gave his first state of the city address Tuesday night.

In the opening minutes of his talk before the Common Council, Mayor Mark Drnek spoke of creating a "strategy for the joint promotion of the Cooperstown to Oneonta corridor for new business and specifically for new residents." Drnek says young people will play a key role in his plans to reinvigorate the city.

"In just days, the mayor's office will be welcoming interns from both SUNY and Harvard, who will be working with the city, with the office of the aging and students at both colleges to develop programs of support and social connection for Oneonta's elder population," said Drnek. "Another set of interns will be researching and compiling a sortable filterable and easily accessed database of resources offered by local institutions and agencies that will help new and expanding businesses to succeed in Oneonta."

Drnek, a Democrat, envisions a downtown with attractions for young families and people of any age including a railroad-themed children's museum, indoor golf and a virtual reality arcade along Market Street.

"Working in collaborative partnership with private developers, our downtown will come alive with two thoroughfares working in harmony to provide complementary destinations for shopping, dining, and for entertainment," Drnek said. "This only happens with respect and flexibility and a willingness to collaborate. And we are already making some progress."

Drnek says developers have already expressed interest in Market Street, adding that new apartment projects are beginning to address Oneonta's need for housing, including development along Market Street that would encourage more people to live downtown.

"This is our time," said Drnek. "This is our light switch. Our light switch moment together. We can and we will make the state of our city a beacon of invitation and an example of how much can be achieved when everyone is invited to the table. Everyone's voice is heard. And everyone's commitment to helping me going on to a better place is respected and nurtured. God bless every single point of view. Let's leave here tonight with a commitment to work together to make our home our neighborhoods and our city better every single day."

Drnek concluded by saying he intends to be visible and available to city residents.

"I hope you'll join your neighbors in tuning into my weekly video messaging for updates," Drnek said. "I am committed to a robust level of communication. Regular updates to social media, weekly videos, a monthly podcast, columns in both newspapers and an improved and user friendly interface to the city's website are just some examples of our strategy for community engagement and the sharing of information. Communication and collaboration. That's our commitment. That's my commitment."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.