Ironically, I have a 42 year old hardcore punk record on in the background while I write this entitled "The Kids Will Have Their Say" by Boston band SS Decontrol. It's full of typical early 80s loud angst, and has aged surprisingly well.

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Last night, the people of Oneonta had their say at a town hall meeting held at Hartwick College and hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Oneonta. According to a flyer, all residents of greater Oneonta were invited to voice their concerns. Council members and district representatives were invited to attend via email.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear comments regarding the proposed sale of the property located at 23,25, and 27-33 Market Street in downtown Oneonta to Rehabilitation Support Services Inc to be developed into housing. Around 80 people attended last night's event.

Per their website, "Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc. (RSS) is a not-for-profit behavioral health agency whose mission is to enrich and empower the lives of people we serve. Our goal is to improve the quality of people’s lives through recovery-oriented housing, work, treatment, socialization, and health and wellness services."

Last night's meeting was a response to a town hall held on Tuesday, February 27th. At that meeting, around 250 people attended, many with the intent of speaking out about the RSS project which was hosted by the City of Oneonta Common Council. At that meeting, attendees were instructed to write queries on pieces of paper. The questions were filtered for "redundancy" and then read by Oneonta Chief of Police Chris Witzenburg.

Jim Havener, owner of Green Toad Bookstore in downtown Oneonta said in a post: "Notably absent from the conversation were the voices of Main Street business owners, whose livelihoods stand to be directly impacted by the development of the new RSS building." At the town hall organized by the Concerned Citizens of Oneonta, business owners and residents engaged in these conversations.

Moderated by Dan Buttermann, the town hall had people put their names into a bucket, and names were chosen at random to have a short amount of time to speak at the microphone. The majority of the speakers opposed the RSS project, some questioning why it's being placed in Oneonta's "bar district". Some business owners voiced concerns stemming from negative interactions they've had within their stores in recent months.

A public hearing will be held by the Common Council on Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 at 6pm in the Common Council Chambers at 258 Main Street in Oneonta. Comments relating to the disposition of the Market Street site will be received at that time.

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