By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — For the first time, the lane off Chestnut Street, north of the Inn at Cooperstown has an official name: Fenimore Lane.
The announcement was made before the opening of the TREP$ Marketplace on Jan. 9 at this year’s Cooperstown Winter Carnival.
“It’s an L shaped dead end road,” said Cooperstown Trustee Cindy Falk.
Falk also said that the only structure on Fenimore Lane is a fire hydrant.
The idea to name Fenimore Lane began in 2007, when developer JGB Properties bought property off the road, and expressed an interest in putting a six-house subdivision on it, receiving preliminary approval from the village’s planning board.
The Inn at Cooperstown claimed ownership of the road, however, a claim the village rejected. The subsequent court case concluded in 2012 with a decision that the road was indeed a public road.
After the case was decided, the village’s board of trustees decided to give the road a name.
Falk, an associate professor of material culture at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, researched the history of the road as a member of the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board.
“Property searches are something I do as part of my job,” said Falk, who is a member of the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board.
Falk said that in old maps, the road really hadn’t had a name, although one had called it Public Way. She said that some older residents have referred to the road as Stagecoach Lane, but the road doesn’t presently connect to Stagecoach Lane.
In December, the board of trustees asked for suggestions for the new street name, and Falk said that they received a few dozen responses. A number of the suggestions were baseball related. Other names were duplications of already existing village street names. Some of the more colorful suggestions were Leedle Leedle Lane, from the SpongeBob SquarePants television program, and Diagon Alley, from the Harry Potter Books.
Both Village Historian Hugh MacDougall and the student council at Cooperstown High School independently suggested the name Fenimore Lane.
Falk said that the name being suggested by both an older and younger members of the community contributed to its selection.
“I’m delighted,” said MacDougall, founder of the James Fenimore Cooper Society, which is devoted to the study of the author. “It was an obvious choice.”
MacDougall said he also has a personal connection to the road. The Inn at Cooperstown was his mother’s family’s old house, and was originally called The Fenimore Cottages.
The involvement of the student council, which submitted many names, was also why the name was unveiled before the opening of the TREP$ Marketplace, which was held in the CCS Red Bursey Gymnasium.
Falk said that the village is looking into replacing a number of street signs this year with a new design. If this plan goes through, Fenimore Lane will also get a street sign.