ONEONTA, NY-- After students sought medical treatment from excessive alcohol consumption, properties were found damaged and members of the public voiced their concerns, city leaders in Oneonta have developed a plan to address binge drinking.
It's called a city task force, and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said the new group will discuss possible solutions for excessive alcohol consumption, scheduling events and communicating better.
"It's a complex problem," Herzig said. "I thought it's best to put together a group of people from different perspectives."
The task force will compromise of several common councilors including, David Rissberger, John Rafter, Joseph Ficano and Russ Southard. It will also include two community members, administrators from Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta, as well as students from both schools.
Herzig said the new group was established because of recent discussions concerning the annual carnival and concert held each spring in downtown Oneonta, called OH-Fest. Each year college students organize the event.
"We have heard complaints from the public, that large house parties, noise, disruptive behavior some property damage is a concern," he said. "And that's a real concern we have to look out for quality of life for the people live here, as well as for the safety of our young people."
Herzig mentioned several times that only a small percentage of students are behaving this way.
"The problem is real and the problem is serious, we need to do everything we can to find ways to minimize the problem."
Councilor Rissberge said he is in favor of moving the event to either of the college campuses, or eliminating OH-Fest altogether.
"OH-Fest and the Main Street carnival is a catalyst for bad behaviorr throughout the inner city neighborhoods."
He added that a number of people have complained to him about the event. But the most compelling complaint was from a parent who's 12-year-old daughter and her female friend "were walking towards the carnival, when they received cat calls by grown drunken men."
The task force is set to meet in August, once the fall semester begins.
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