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June 13, 2013

Dreams Park, then and now, required a work ethic


Ever since the late 1980s, Cooperstown began to witness what was going on in many other American cities and villages, suburban sprawl. While tourism had always been good in Cooperstown, the village saw a surge around this time, and the visitors wanted and enjoyed their fast food and other conveniences, which were not yet locally available. Village residents vehemently fought chain operations, such as Pizza Hut and McDonald’s from locating within the village borders.

While the village won their battle, areas outside the village and towns of Otsego and Middlefield were more receptive in providing the “extras” the visitors were seeking. The sprawl headed south into the town of Hartwick, in the areas of Index, Hyde Park and Hartwick Seminary on state Route 28. Just prior to the Dreams Park, places such as the Best Western hotel and The Commons shopping center had opened in 1993 and 1994, respectively. The Pizza Hut and McDonald’s that were rejected by Cooperstown also located in this area.

Hartwick Seminary had been a generally quiet community, dotted with farms, and of course the school, which had been founded by John Christopher Hartwick in 1797. The seminary went on to become today’s Hartwick College, relocating to Oneonta in 1928.

Rodney Ingalls, 94, remembers the seminary, as his family moved to that area to set up their farm when he was three years old. They moved from another local farm on Christian Hill Road, south of Fly Creek. Had things worked out differently, the Ingalls might’ve had to relocate again in the late 1920s, as for a short time Hartwick College had considered locating on their fields, where the Dreams Park is now.

The farm today is easily identifiable, with an “Ingall’s Crossing” street sign and the ever-familiar farm stand, always a popular spot for buying corn. The family farm is well known for their produce, but it wasn’t always that way.

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