---- — We are happy to report that Woodside Hall is continuing with its presentation of programs which are open to the public. This evening at 6:30 p.m., they are hosting Glimmerglass Festival designers Troy Hourie and Erik Teague who will discuss their role in the company's summer production of Strauss' opera, "Ariadne in Naxos: Unplugged."
Although the program is open to the public free of charge, those wishing to attend are asked to make a reservation by calling Deborah Ziegler, director of community relations, at 373-7817.
And next Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m., Woodside Hall will present a program featuring the Pathfinder Village Bell Choir. Again those wishing to attend should contact Deborah Ziegler.
We have learned, as a result of an e-mail we received that informed us that “we have the chain saw, ax throwing, log splitting, wood carving championship of the world going on at the lake front,” that there was an event held recently in Lakefront Park which has us wondering about the use of public property in the village.
On Saturday, June 7 the “Cooperstown Lumberjack Legacy Invitational Lumberjack Competition” was held. This was followed on June 8 with the “Professional Northeast Qualifier” held in anticipation of the U.S. Pro and Collegiate Championship, sponsored by Stihl Timbersports, to be held at a later date at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk.
Now we realize that any number of events have been held over the years in Lakefront Park. But unlike this event, those events were for the most part sponsored by non-profit organizations having something to do with that which is Cooperstown. As our e-mailer wrote: “The park has generally been used for not for profit organizations to have shows, raise money or entertain people.” However, it would seem that this chainsaw event in Lakefront Park is not only a part of a commercially sponsored undertaking but also has little, if anything, to do with the Cooperstown community.
Thus we e-mailed the mayor to express our concern, asking if the event had non-profit roots? If not, did the company pay big bucks to use the park? And the really big question is why was such an event deemed appropriate given its proximity to residential properties?
In response to our questions, the mayor wrote:
“Meetings on this event began in January. We asked for more information and outlined what would be needed to get approval. We suggested Linden Ave. recreation site as a possible location, but Nathan (who we gathered applied for the permit) noted there would be no food vendors and he wanted the attendees to patronize the local businesses, one block from Lakefront. The proposal was reviewed at the Parks Board at February (and more information was requested) and March meetings. Nathan attended the March Parks meeting and board members discussed it. With input from DPW Brian Clancy, the Parks Board discussed how this event could be safely staged in Park.
"The trustees approved it at the April meeting for a $500 deposit and $65 non-resident fee (plus $25 application fee).”
He also said that attempts are always made to create “... something for the greater good.”
As we told the mayor, “We don't think there is a case to be made that it wasn't possible to hold the event in Lakefront Park. We are just questioning why the residents of the village never seem to be considered when decisions regarding the use of public property are discussed.”
As our resident e-mailer noted: “The noise was unbelievable and the MC never shut up. Obnoxious!”
We also think there must have been some amount of additional air pollution as a result of the event. So exactly what that “greater good” might be in this case quite escapes us.
We then attempted to explain to the mayor that one thing we had learned when serving as co-chair for the 1986 Cooperstown Bicentennial was that when planning events there are organic events and there are synthetic events. Organic events evolve naturally out of the coming and goings and needs of the community. Synthetic events are those imposed on the community by someone desirous of holding such an event even though it has no origins in the community itself. And we thought this chain saw undertaking had “synthetic” stamped all over it making even less sense, under the circumstances, for it to have been approved.
At some point in this e-mail conversation, the mayor pointed out that “I guess I'd disagree with you that the residents aren't considered. Every board member and myself, are elected by the residents, who we represent, trying our best to balance all factors. If our representation seems off, or wrong, there are ways to replace us."
To this we replied that “... we think saying that if we in the village do not like decisions being made we should simple vote people out of office. We find that to be a cop out. As a resident, I expect whoever is in office to realize that they represent the citizens of the community. Unfortunately, there are those of us who do not think that is happening.”
Needless to say, the mayor disagreed. He also pointed out that those who attended the event really enjoyed it. And we don’t doubt that. Had we known about it we too might have been inclined to attend. But we have to ask if those who did attend would have enjoyed it less if it had been held in a more suitable location? We rather doubt it.
Unfortunately, as we think about this, it seems that the only group in town which does not have some sort of a lobbying organization representing its interests are the residents. And while the mayor may think, as he pointed out when talking about Lakefront Park, “it's a park surrounded by houses. Doubleday has the same issues,” we tend to look at it differently. Lakefront Park, as well as Doubleday Field, are public areas which have been developed in the middle of what are fragile residential neighborhoods. And to continue to undertake events which should be done somewhere other than our parks will only continue to increase the fragile nature of our residential community.
PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.