Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek’s vision of a downtown Children’s Museum cleared its first hurdle.  A majority of participants at Monday’s meeting to discuss the proposal want to continue exploring the idea.

“It appears we got what we wanted,” Drnek told CNY News following a meeting at SUNY’s Morris Conference Center. “We will move forward.”  Drnek wants to attract a new, younger generation to Oneonta. Drnek believes one way to recruit young families to Oneonta is “to present ourselves as a community that prizes its children.”

He believes a venue that provides entertainment and education focusing on Oneonta’s railroad history will help attract the target demographic of employed 25-to-39 year-olds.

Funding and location are issues that will be decided as the project moves forward.  If it is going to happen, “it has to be a full-blown children’s museum and it has to have a corporate sponsor,” Community Development Director Judy Pangman said.

Some of the participants expressed concern that a new museum will compete for limited grant money or duplicate existing attractions.  Marcela Micucci, executive director of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, said GOHS’s Main Street building is undergoing renovations that will include a children’s area with an emphasis on Oneonta’s railroad past.

The organizations that participated in the discussion included the YMCA, For-Do, Hartwick’s Yager Museum, SUNY’s Science Discovery Center, Catskill Regional Teacher’s Association, Opportunities for Otsego, Greater Oneonta Historical Society, Destination Oneonta, and Oneonta World of Learning.

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