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July 25, 2013

'Furthur' anger expressed

Merchant anger went “Furthur” at the Cooperstown village’s monthly board of trustees meeting on Monday.

“We really work so very hard to follow all of the rules we are asked to follow in this village,” said Renee LaFond, who owns Little Bo’tique on Main Street, and was one of four people speaking out against the concert during the public comment section of the meeting. 

“We’re hanging on by our fingernails,” she said.

LaFond said that she felt annoyed that “Shakedown Street” merchants didn’t have to get permits or follow rules during the weekend around the July 14 concert at Doubleday Field. 

“Those people had no intention of supporting our shops, supporting our restaurants, supporting our taverns,” she added.

Her anger was amplified by Brian Paterno of Paterno Brothers Sports on Main Street.

 “This weekend I will have to pay a $100 fee to put a table in front of my store, but they were allowed to set up for free. You guys are burying us. I am not talking about the parking. I am talking about the tedious stuff like signs and tables,” he said, adding that he felt the concert was an “absolute disaster.”

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz had previously said that the village would try to contain rather than try to shut down or require permits from vendors who follow the Grateful Dead legacy band. The village tried to force the merchants into the municipal lot on Chestnut Street, a plan which worked but not to perfection. But the perception that laws would be suspended for one weekend, irked many merchants and residents.

Asked Chestnut Street resident Jim Donley: “I’d just like to ask, where does the authority to suspend laws come from?”

Not everyone spoke out against the concert, however. 

“I for one would like to thank the board for bringing Furthur to Cooperstown,” said Patti Ashley of Ashley-Connor Realty on Pioneer Street. “I’d been hoping they would come here for two years. My son flew in for the weekend and we had a very good time.”

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