Most Rochesterians can’t imagine life without Wegmans. But soon, they’ll all need to remember their reusable grocery bags when they make a shopping trip — or else they’ll end up paying the price.
That’s because the chain has finally set the date of their plastic bag ban, ahead of New York State’s own that goes into effect on March 1. Starting on January 27, Wegmans shoppers statewide will no longer have access to the single use plastic bags they’ve grown accustomed to using (and adding to a growing collection in the hall closet).
Up to 500,000 reefer trailers are currently in operation in the United States. Many of those trailers are packed with various items heading to Wegmans locations around the northeast.
While we rely on plastics for a variety of applications in our everyday lives, such as the durable plastics created through the reaction injection molding process, single use plastics are being heavily targeted for their wastefulness. Stainless Steel 304 is the number one most common grade of stainless steel. While 88% of the world’s steel is recycled, single use plastics are known to be harmful to the environment. We currently use 23 billion plastic bags each year, but researchers state that these bags never really decompose. This has prompted states like California to ban these single use plastic bags outright — and New York followed suit.
But until now, New York residents weren’t exactly sure when their shopping routines would be disrupted. You won’t be able to walk into a store, load your cart with personal care items (many of which contain oils in concentrations of 1-99%) and prepared food, and expect to be given grocery bags for free. Wegmans previously announced the chain would be getting rid of the bags (other than plastic bags used for uncooked meat, sliced and prepared foods, bulk products, prescription drugs, carry-out orders, and newspapers) prior to the statewide ban, but now, some residents are scrambling to get their reusable bags in order so that they won’t be forced to pay a fee.
That’s right: if you forget your own bags, you’ll need to pay a fee — if you’re in a county or municipality that’s opted into that corresponding program, that is. Wegmans will charge five cents per paper bag where applicable. Instacart shoppers will not be charged extra for paper bags, since they do not have the option of providing their own reusable ones. But before you make assumptions about where that money is going, you should know that the chain plans to donate those proceeds to local food banks in areas that have not opted into the statewide five-cent charge program. In the areas that have opted in, two cents from each bag will go towards local government, while three cents will be diverted to New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
That said, many advocates have pointed out that paper bags and even reusable plastic options are not necessarily better for the enviornment and that some of the guidelines show a lack of understanding about the issues at-hand.
Still, that won’t stop the wheels of progress from turning — or keep you from needing to invest in reusable shopping bags. There are plenty of options available (there are even ones you can buy right at Wegmans), but most people will want bags that are washable and sturdy enough to carry all of that fresh food without worry. Although the number of fast-food restaurants throughout the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1970s, having the right kind of reusable bags can make it that much easier to shop for healthy itemsand support environmental initiatives. It’ll just take some getting used to — and likely a couple of extra trips back to the car to retrieve the bags you forgot in the trunk.
Rochesterians know all too well that living in the Flower City comes with its caveats. While the city offers a plethora of cultural events, a rich history, and an exploding food scene, the harsh winters can sometimes make some forget why they live here in the first place. When you’re scraping ice off your car or shoveling snow in the driveway — whether it’s six inches of wet snow or 38 inches of dry snow, it’s all the same — you might curse your decision to settle down in the ROC. But you may change your tune when you hear about just how valuable your home might be.
Despite the fact that 85% of the nation’s homes were built prior to 1980 (and many of the houses in the city center are older than that), it looks as if age isn’t negatively impacting Rochester’s housing market. In fact, many homeowners just received notice that their property assessments are on the rise. In a citywide assessment, it was revealed that property values in the city increased by 19.3% on average, jumping from $76,145 to $90,864. The biggest increases were seen in the South Wedge and Upper Falls neighborhoods, which showed respective jumps of 37% and 34%. Overall, 84% of residential property owners saw increases in their assessments, though only about one-fourth of commercial property owners experienced any kind of assessment increase.
“Rochester is home to one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation,” explained Justin Roj with the City of Rochester in a statement. “Home assessments are up in every single neighborhood in the city. Every single one.”
This is potentially good news for homeowners looking to sell in the near future. But it could also have a negative impact on property taxes for those who choose to stay put. Assessments will apply to the 2021 fiscal year, which starts in July. And since one-third of Rochesterians live in poverty, higher taxes and less-affordable housing could actually have negative effects on property ownership overall. It’s entirely possible that many Rochesterians will have to continue renting if they want to remain in the city — and perhaps rent a professional storage unit to secure valuables and belongings they can’t store on-site — rather than buying property they can’t afford. Alternatively, it could push some residents to look for homes outside the city itself; while suburban living remains a popular option, many Rochester residents don’t want to give up convenient walkability and other perks.
Of course, it’s not a sure thing that all homeowners will see a tax increase. That’s determined by the tax rate and levy, which won’t be set until next summer. Should city spending remain constant or if the tax rate is reduced, property taxes might end up going down (depending on the specific assessment increase).
Still, many homeowners and community leaders aren’t thrilled by the news. Bryce Miller of the North Winton Village Association expressed his concerns to RochesterFirst.com, saying that he’s worried about the most vulnerable people in the neighborhood.
“There are people here who have such a strict budget, they have nowhere they can cut,” said Miller. He’d like to see some kind of assessment cap put in place and suggested that homeowners can meet with a city appraiser to set up another assessment in an effort to contest the increases.
And while Realtor.com recently ranked Rochester as the sixth-hottest housing market nationwide, other residents are apprehensive about whether the assessments actually reflect true property values — and what the increase could mean for the escalating number of rental properties in the area. In many cases, it means that landlords and rental property owners are making major money while many homeowners could end up being priced out.
For now, city residents may have to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Alternatively, they can prepare for what’s known as “Grievance Day” — the designated date to contest housing assessments. In Rochester, that occurs on March 17, 2020. In order to contest an assessment, homeowners have to present evidence to Rochester’s Board of Assessment Review and offer sound reasoning for a lowered assessment. But if arguing your case isn’t an option, you may simply have to see what happens when the tax rates are determined later this year and hope for the best.
According to the New York Post, Rochester seems to be a “grim and depressing” place to live. But anyone who loves the Flower City will tell you otherwise — even when it’s covered with that ubiquitous lake effect snow. Although people over the age of 55 are at least four times more likely to suffer a heart-related injury when shoveling the white stuff, many Rochesterians feel the harsh winters are well worth staying for.
Despite the cold and ice, there’s something magical about spending the holidays here. Although the holidays are a stressful time and Americans, on average, argue 19 times per month, there are plenty of fun activities that can actually strenghen releationships. And if you’re stumped on how to celebrate the season, there are plenty of events and activities that can help you appreciate what the city has to offer.
ROC Holiday Village
Only in its second year, this free event promises to be a real crowd-pleaser. In fact, its debut last year actually brought more than 100,000 people downtown to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square. It’ll return for a three-and-a-half-week run starting on Friday, December 6 and will be open from 4 pm to 11 pm on Fridays, 10 am to 11 pm on Saturdays, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays through December 31. This year’s Village will feature a larger restaurant and bar, a new gaming room, a live nativity, more food trucks, ice skating, crafts, photos with Santa, and more. ROC Holiday Village will also light an outdoor menorah during the evenings from December 22 through December 30 — and since the average life expectancy of a fluorescent or LED bulb can range from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, organizers may be hoping that their bulbs will last just as long as the oil in the Hanukah story. In addition, the Village will host Kwanzaa and Three Kings’ Day celebrations on December 21 and 28, respectively. Although no permanent construction will be performed (meaning that some of the 8.4 million people employed within the construction industry might not be working on this project), putting the event together literally takes a village.
Lighting the Trees, Poles, and Kegs
The City of Rochester will host its annual Liberty Pole lighting on December 7. Starting at 4:30 at East Main Street and Franklin Street, the festivities will involve and meet-and-greet with Santa, Rudolph, and his elves (as well as local sports team mascots), followed by the lighting at 5 pm. A parade will then make its way to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.
If you want to embrace an unconventional Rochester tradition, head to the Genesee Brew House for their now-annual keg tree lighting ceremony on December 6 at 6:30 pm to enjoy the lights, the beer, the music, and the food trucks. Last year, the event drew more than 6,000 Rochesterians to witness the unique tree created out of 520 kegs. Just make sure that if you attend, you have a safe way of getting home. While there were 5,172 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017, drunk driving accidents in general become more common around the holidays. Those who choose to drink should arrange for alternate transportation.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for a traditional tree-lighting, there are plenty of options to choose from. You just might need to venture outside the immediate city center to see them. Partake in Pittsford’s Candlelight Night on December 3 and see two separate tree lightings in the village (one at Main and State streets at 6 pm and the other at Label 7 in Northfield Common at 7 pm). Your family can also meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Grinch. Keep in mind that South Main will be closed to traffic and that shuttle service will run from Pittsford Sutherland High School to the village for convenience. You could also venture out to the Greece Community Center for their annual Tree Lighting and Family Christmas Party on December 5. Be sure to arrive early for holiday carols and stay for the tree-lighting at 6:15 (after which the indoor-outdoor party will begin). On December 7, check out the Village of Victor celebration and stick around for the 5 pm tree-lighting ceremony. That same day, you could also attend Fairport’s Come Home For the Holidays Event from 3 pm to 6 pm, which includes a 5 pm tree-lighting ceremony at Kennelley Park on West Avenue. You might also consider attending Little Italy’s second annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration on December 14, which takes place on the front lawn of the Rochester Fire Department’s Engine Number 5 Fire House, at 5 pm. Festivities include Italian cookies, cocoa, holiday music, and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Special (and Affordable) Seasonal Offerings
Kids love getting presents, sure — but there is something about a celebration that adults can enjoy, too. A recent survey showed that 71% of participants love celebrating their birthday, at any age. If you’re looking for affordable ways to celebrate the season with your family, there are a number of events you’ll want to put on the calendar now. There’s Holiday Laser at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, which features holiday favorites with dancing laser lights, running now through January 5 (there’s also a sensory-friendly performance on December 7). The George Eastman Museum is also putting on a Holiday Homecoming Event on December 12, which features live music, cookies and punch, family activities, and festive displays, along with a visit from Santa. The museum’s Sweet Creations Gingerbread Display will also continue through December 15, so families can take advantage of both options with museum admission. Just remember to adhere to the recommended practice of brushing your teeth twice a day if you indulge in any of the sweet treats at these Eastman events. You could also take the family to Christmas with Santa at Springdale Farm (which includes breakfast!) in Spencerport on November 30, December 7, or December 14 or go to Garden Factory’s Holiday Family Fun event on Saturdays and Sundays through December 22. The event includes rides, games, crafts, Santa appearances, and a petting zoo. The Rochester Public Market will host Holidays at the Market on December 1, 8, 15, and 19, which will include holiday carriage rides, cookie decorating, and (you guessed it) appearances by Santa.
Remember to be extremely careful while driving this winter, as well. In a single year in Texas, there was one person injured every two minutes and four seconds, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. But in upstate New York, where heavy snowfall is a factor, it’s far more dangerous to be on the roads. So drive safe!
If you’re sticking around Rochester for the holidays, there are clearly plenty of reasons to feel jolly. With so many yuletide events going on, you’ll probably have trouble deciding which ones you’ll have to skip this year.
Ever since Water Street Music Hall lost its entertainment license back in 2016, Rochester hasn’t been the same. The once-top venue in the music scene was the victim of violence and financial insecurity, causing the city of Rochester to question its safety.
In one infamous incident, a band arrived at the music hall, only to be met with a closed venue. In another notorious case, songwriter Anna Nalick had to wear mittens during a January show when the heat didn’t work. While it’s estimated that buildings eat up to 40% of the nation’s energy, Rochesterians weren’t sympathetic to the venue: many people walked out as a result.
In March 2016, it wasn’t surprising when the city refused to renew the club’s entertainment license. About 33% of small business owners report that a lack of funding is a top business challenge.
The city cited eight separate instances that hindered the venue’s safety and public welfare. Among these incidents included gun violence, traffic violations, and on-site brawls among patrons. Under Title 18, aggravated assault and battery is a Federal crime.
The music hall did not appeal its sentencing and closed, thereby allowing Syracuse-based venue Funk ‘n Waffles to take over in 2917. Here the new business witnessed calmer streets and more relaxed shows, but Rochesterians failed to adopt the new business. As such, Funk ‘n Waffles was unable to book national acts and headliners, causing further financial difficulties for the venue. After all, you will have to pay quarterly estimated taxes if your business owes income taxes of more than $1,000, regardless of business type. In only a year and a half, they closed their doors.
Owner Peter Sewell didn’t waste any time reclaiming the space.
After working on reinventing Water Street Music Hall for almost a year, Sewell announced the venue’s reopening this October. Dubbed “Water Street 2020,” he wants patrons to recognize the tried and true atmosphere of Water Street that Rochesterians grew up with. But he was sure to add a few new fixtures to entice new customers.
The newest remodel includes a new sound system, moving lights, and updated bathrooms. These will offer a huge return on investment for the venue, especially if they qualify as start-up expenditures for the new space. The biggest change, however, is the club’s new restaurant: Jack’s on Water Street.
Jack’s on Water Street will feature some of Sewell’s favorite cuisines from his time in Las Vegas. The venue has also ditched its old stage for the sake of making more room for restaurant seating. This was a smart move on Sewell’s part: up to 69% of home remodels involve renovating the kitchen. Even though he has wanted Water Street Music Hall to feature a restaurant for a long time, this will be a key aspect of the venue’s revitalization project.
Sewell named the restaurant after his rescue pitbull Jack, one of the 75 million pet dogs loved throughout the United States. But don’t think the food is made for Fido: Sewell’s head chef once worked for Wolfgang Puck and Bellagio’s Steakhouse.
In its heyday, the club witnessed top acts and more sold-out shows than the owner could count.
“We’ve had 300 sell-outs over the years and we were named the number one club in Rochester for multiple years,” reminisces Sewell in an interview with WHEC.
Though Jack’s on Water Street has already opened, the music venue side, Water Street 2020, is slated to open this weekend.
“I want people to know, ‘It’s the Water Street I grew up with,'” explains Sewell. “I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘I was there for my first-ever concert, it was a high school battle of the bands.’ I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘My first concert was, fill in the blank, at Water Street.'”
Hopefully, this venue will serve as someone’s first concert for more years to come.
Mayor Lovely Warren recently announced a new effort to promote homeownership in the city of Rochester. She wants to expand the homeownership tax breaks that the city currently offers in downtown Rochester to all city neighborhoods.
That program, called Core Housing Owner Incentive Exemption (CHOICE), has been successful in recent years at turning the once-desolate downtown Rochester into an area where people actually live. According to Gary Kirkmire of Neighborhood and Business Development, CHOICE offers a significant tax incentive to people who build homes and live in them, encouraging growth through owner-occupancies and construction in residential neighborhoods.
The incentive is a nine-year declining tax exemption on city, school, and county property taxes. In year one the exemption starts at 90% and is 10% by year nine. There are no discounts thereafter, but this steep cut on property taxes could be very helpful for new homeowners. Although the vast majority of American employees pay income taxes, which account for about half of federal revenue, the additional burden of property taxes is often what disrupts the dream of homeownership for many. Interested participants can claim the exemptions for new owner-occupied, market-rate housing construction or renovation. According to the Census Bureau, 30% of remodeling activity was major additions and alterations, 40% minor additions and alterations, and 30% maintenance and repair.
For 24% of recent home buyers, the primary reason for the recent home purchase was a desire to own a home, while 9% purchased due to a job-related relocation or move, and 8% bought for the desire to be in a better area or a change in family situation. Warren hopes that the structure of this new incentive will help close the gap between the assessed property values in various city neighborhoods and the cost of new construction.
“We have people who want to live, work and play in our city and we want to give them that opportunity and giving them that opportunity to actually build and design their home the way that they want, to design it on some of the land that we have available in many of our neighborhoods,” said Warren.
Imagine Monroe, a local industrial development agency, administers the tax agreement. The city is still seeking approval from Imagine Monroe to expand CHOICE to other neighborhoods in Rochester. If approved, the program would allow for single-family homes — the median of which is about 2,386 square feet — and two-family homes that are owner-occupied. Homeowners can even combine CHOICE with other incentive programs. According to Kirkmire, developers such as Habitat for Humanity and Greater Rochester Housing Partnership can take advantage of the program as well.
It’s important to note that studies show that the average amount it takes to sell a house in the U.S. is around $15,200. The city’s plan could also open the door to new housing options, including tiny houses. Down state, specially in Suffolk County, the median home price is $415,000. Records show that these homes would likely be most appealing to empty nesters and millennials. While empty nesters may see the draw in tiny houses in their ability to downsize, millennials are looking to grow financially, with about 96% of millennial investors interested in making a real estate investment. A tiny house offers an affordable option while still giving millennial investors a viable piece of real estate.
Despite the city’s insistence that CHOICE is a successful program, some critics think otherwise. Democratic City Council candidate Mary Lupien has seen CHOICE’s impact and believes that it favors the wealthy. Lupien says that the focus on middle and high-income neighborhoods is a focus on development that doesn’t need financial support. She instead points to the many vacant lots in Rochester that need investment.
“If it is not targeted, the CHOICE program will further gentrification and increase inequality,” Lupien said in a joint statement released by her and Rachel Barnhart, Democratic nominee for Monroe County legislator.
Barnhart has said that the majority of people who will apply for the tax break would have built anyway. According to Barnhardt, the break wouldn’t encourage homeownership for renters who occupy some of the 42.58 million housing units in the United States, but simply help the wealthy build homes they would have built anyways. She points to the new builds on East Avenue and Park Avenue that have happened in the last decade without assistance from CHOICE.
Lupien believes that focusing on other programs in which construction is already subsidized could help more low-income residents get into homeownership. As the United States is the second largest construction market in the world and continues to see growth, the price of new home construction is often beyond the budgets of low-income residents. If a program subsidizes the cost of construction, these residents could more often afford becoming homeowners. Lupien sees this outcome as a huge step for the Rochester community.
In the face of these criticisms, Kirkmire counters that low-income neighborhoods would not be shut out because market-rate prices would be proportionate to the area. He maintains that if the program helps develop all 600 vacant lots in the city, all of the city’s residents would be able to benefit.
City Council still needs to approve the CHOICE expansion proposal before it goes into effect. The public will be able to give input on the proposal as well.
There’s a lot to look forward to this weekend in Upstate New York; between the Rochester Pride Parade and the Ithaca Grassroots festival, we’re planning on spending a lot of time outside. Unfortunately, the heat might try to ruin your summer fun as temperatures soar into the 100s.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. During those months, some U.S. city residents have to constantly worry about storms ruining their livlihood. Rochesterians, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about hurricanes, but they do need to watchout for extremely high temperatures. The heat and humidity are expected to be so bad that Rochester City Mayor Lovely Warren has officially announced a heat emergency for Friday and Saturday, making it the third excessive heat warning ever issued for the region.
According to weather reports, the heat index is supposed to reach a high of 108 degrees Fahrenheit in some locations. The last time we experienced such temperature highs was back in 1936.
In light of the new warning, the city’s emergency plan is preparing public buildings to provide relief from the heat. The Democrat and Chronicle notes that some pool hours will be extended, libraries will serve as cooling centers, and hydrants will be opened to beat the heat.
While we can expect a few spotty showers throughout the region, these cooling events won’t be enough to offer relief from sweltering temperatures. It’s important for kids to get outside and have some fun before school begins. There are 30,861 private schools in the U.S., serving 5.3 million PK-12 students. However, when temperatures are nearing the 100s, it’s much safer to keep them cool and keep them inside.
Local area doctors note that the heat can be particularly damaging for older people and those with compromised immune systems.
“For people who are elderly or have underlying medical problems… the consequences can be more severe. The heat can cause their medical conditions to be exacerbated or for them to become more ill in a very rapid manner,” explains Dr. Mike Kamali who serves as the chair of the URMC Department of Emergency Medicine.
Kamali recommends that people stay in air-conditioned locations as much as possible this weekend, especially if you’re out and about. It might also be worth investing in a new HVAC system for your home; the average house has nearly doubled in size since the 1950s, making it more difficult to keep cool. However, energy-efficient models have aided in keeping cool air in and hot air out.
While these increasingly high temperatures might not be enough to make you one of the 45 million people who move each year, it’s certainly enough to make you stay in your Rochester home. But if you’re planning on camping, attending Rochester Pride, or visiting Grassroots, you can follow these helpful to stay cool.
Drink plenty of water
This point might seem obvious, but its importance bears repeating: without enough water, you might find yourself suffering from heatstroke or worse. It’s recommended that you drink at least two liters of water each day, but you’ll need to drink even more in extreme heat to replenish the water that your body loses through sweat.
“When you start to feel hot, you start to sweat,” continues Kamali. “Your body is trying to get rid of excess heat and usually, you can do that as long as you’re staying hydrated and making attempts to cool yourself off.”
Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go and try to heat hydrating, healthy foods throughout the day. These include grapes, watermelon, and other fruits with high water content. It’s recommended that you already eat five servings of vegetables each day, so try to avoid particularly salty or heavy foods when you’re spending time outside. Keep in mind that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Also, use this time to enjoy some delecious frozen treats. It takes 50 licks to finish a single scoop of ice cream — so take your time and stay cool.
Stay out of the sun
Planning a party involves organizing hundreds of details, from invitations to decorations, food and activities. Whether you’re plannig a few parties this summer or not, it’s best to find shade whenever possible, whether that means idling under a tree or wearing an oversized hat. Consider getting a few extra fans and setting up some large tengs for added shade. This will help keep you cooler and prevent the possibility of sunburn.
Dress in loose-fitting clothing
While you might not be able to access air conditioning in the middle of the Pride parade, it’s vital that you do whatever you can to stay cool. One way to do that is by wearing, light, loose-fitting clothing. Light colors will help reflect the heat from your body while the loose fit will help wind cool your skin. You can also try wetting your clothing to stay cooler since the damp patches will catch the wind and further cool you down.
Know the signs of heatstroke
The young and elderly are at particularly high risk for heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Here are the symptoms you should watch out for when you’re worried a loved one is suffering from the heat:
Nausea and dizziness
Very hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
Loss of consciousness
If you’re spending too much time in the sun, try to get to a pool or other body of water after your festival. Pools with glass finishes maintain their integrity indefinitely, making this a great option for apartment buildings, public watering holes, or your local gym. If you’re by the lake, don’t hesitate to take a dip. Just be sure to layer on the sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
Remember that the Pride Parade starts at 1 PM on Saturday, right when the sun is at its peak. If you have to venture outdoors this weekend, try following these tips to stay safe. Rochester may be under a heat warning, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your summer fun.
Rochester resident Cindy Dudak experienced the unique sadness that comes with a beloved pet going missing when her pet bird Missy, a conure parrot, flew out of their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak has also now experienced the wonderful happiness and sense of relief that comes with that same pet returning home. What’s strange about this story is that these two feelings happened over a year apart.
On April 12, 2018, Dudak accidentally left the apartment’s sliding balcony door open for a just moment. In that sliver of time, Missy took the chance to spread her wings and got outside. A gust of wind swept her up, depositing the parrot into a nearby tree. Before Dudak could successfully coax her back inside, two larger birds chased Missy off of her perch and away from her home.
“There were no leaves on the tree, so she was like a sitting duck. If I were younger, I would have climbed the tree myself,” said Dudak, 66.
Short of scaling that tree, Dudak did everything she possibly could to get Missy back home. She walked around the neighborhood with her carrier and favorite bell-adorned toys, hoping the parrot would hear the familiar ringing and come back to her. She then scouted the area by bike and car, but to no avail.
Dudak contacted lost-pet organizations in the city and surrounding suburbs to post information about her missing bird. She got in touch with the Humane Society of Greater Rochester at Lollypop Farm and made sure notices about Missy were posted to the Lollypop Spotters Facebook page. According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, nearly two-thirds of marketers cited Facebook as the most important social platform.After a couple of weeks, Dudak realized how much stress the search was putting on her body and knew she had to slow down.
Despite the weeks and months that were passing, Dudak didn’t stop praying for Missy’s safety. She also held on to Missy’s cage, toys, and perches around the apartment. Perches allow a conure parrot to have the run of an apartment, whether that apartment falls in the median rent of $1,492 per month or well above or below it. According to Lollypop spokesperson Ashley Zeh, parrots are happiest when they can spread their wings and fly around. Dudak’s perches ensured Missy could do this, but she was apparently looking for a grander adventure.
That adventure ended on June 7, 2019 when Missy flew into a building under construction. Thankfully, the construction project hadn’t gotten around to installing energy efficient windows, which lower energy bills by 7% to 15% when compared to standard windows. Without those money-saving panes in place, Missy was able to sail in through a fourth-floor window.
She found a new perch on a construction worker’s shoulder and refused to leave it. The building this unsuspecting construction worker was in was less than two miles from Seneca Towers.
Luckily, Dudak wasn’t one of the 35.5. million Americans who move every year. She had stayed put, stayed hopeful, and Missy had returned home. The two were reunited less than 24 hours later after Dudak received a long-awaited email. A worker at Birds Unlimited, a pet store in Penfield Dudak had contacted when Missy initially went missing, had seen a post on the Lollypop Spotters page about a conure that had been turned into the Perinton shelter. Dudak checked the post and started crying when she saw the parrot looked just like Missy.
When Dudak arrived at the shelter, they confirmed that the band number on the found parrot matched Missy’s and the year-long separation between pet and owner ended. But history has shown us that time is relative, as when French revolutionaries tried to institute a 10-hour clock after the French Revolution. Just like the revolutionaries, time certainly seemed to have no meaning for Missy and Dudak, as the two were thick as thieves again almost immediately.
“She came right over to me, and I was so happy,” Dudak said.
Zeh has said that she cannot remember a pet bird being found after going missing for such a long time, making Missy’s story quite unique. Although a recent study has found that dozens of parrot species typically kept as pets are now living in the wild in states across the Northeast and Midwest, many were shocked that Missy survived the harsj Rochester winter on her own. After all, Missy’s species of parrot is native to the forests of South America and as a pet bird she shouldn’t have been accustomed to foraging for her own food.
Yet despite all odds, Dudak has her beloved Missy back in their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak now knows to never give up hope on a lost pet and, hopefully, to never leave a balcony door open with an adventurous parrot inside who likes to spread her wings.
The city of Rochester is gearing up for a few major construction projects that are all looking to change its current landscape and affordability. One program that will shift the housing market in Rochester is the Mission-Based Affordable Housing Partnership.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James came to Rochester on May 18 to announce to program. According to the announcement, the program will grant up to $1.4 million to mission-based organizations that are looking to develop available land into affordable housing. Nonprofit civic institutions will also be eligible for the grant. This program will extend beyond Rochester into Erie county as well as areas of Central New York and the Capital Region.
When James visited earlier in the month, she met with local political and faith leaders at F.I.G.H.T Village, a champion of affordable housing in Rochester led by Minister Clifford Florence. The organization has been pushing for affordable housing in Rochester since the 1960s. Its challenges lie in combatting the placement of low-income families in cheap but old homes that present dangers such as lead paint, which is still present in about 57 million homes in the United States.
“We’re fighting with racism, we’re fighting with the lack of jobs, affordable housing, education. So the issues are the same as they were 50 years ago, but we have to have the will to do what it takes to change it,” Florence said.
With the new partnership, organizations like F.I.G.H.T will finally be able to give Rochester residents a permanent solution for stable and economical housing. Too often, homeowners facing financial troubles turn to temporary fixes such as hard money loans, which typically have a loan-to-value ratio in the 60% to 70% range. Now F.I.G.H.T will be able to give residents another option by working with trustworthy developers. These professionals can help guide organizations through the construction processes, which are often long and complicated. For instance, unlike traditional mudjacking where a minimum waiting period of 24 hours is necessary, builders can use raised concrete right away.
A typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks.Since there are around 17 million shipping containers in the world, and only 6 million of these in use — approximately 11 million shipping containers are currently unused and could be converted into affordable homes for people all over the United States.
The Flower City Habitat for Humanity and the Autism Council of Rochester are also partnering to bring housing for an underserved community in the city. The two organizations plan to develop autism-friendly homes for families that have children with autism.
Not only will the program get more families closer to being homeowners, the number of which in the country is down to 63.4% from 69% in 2004, but it will also provide the space and modifications that children with autism need.
Objects such as compression swings can help balance the behavior and emotions of children with autism, but they don’t fit very easily into a two-bedroom apartment. The housing will also include sound and light sensitivity and a stockade fence in the backyard that measures six to eight feet high to ensure kids don’t wander into the streets while they play.
The final piece of news in Rochester construction is the proposed Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan. This plan aims to increase density and create more varied uses for certain city arterials. According to city officials, the proposal won’t result in many dramatic changes, but will instead reinforce or restore the downtown area’s historic form and character.
The rezoning efforts would aim to balance the stark differences in poverty rates, education levels, unemployment, minority population share, and more seen between the neighborhoods with the highest and lowest demands. In the southeast and crescent, two areas that are polar opposites to one another, two-thirds of residences are rentals. This is higher than the citywide average and with 33% of renters moving every year, there isn’t much permanency in either of these zones.
No official zoning changes are underway now, but they will go be brought to the neighborhoods and go through normal approvals when it comes time.
The plan will also focus on street-level retail around the East End area, Sibley Square, and Midtown. Establishments like local restaurants and independent coffee shops, which have about $12 billion in annual sales, will help guide the rezoning process in these areas.
The proposal is both more flexible in regulations regarding minimum lot sizes and parking and more adamant about higher standards for the design of mixed-use and multi-family building projects. Although no details of the plan are definite quite yet, the city will hire a consultant to review its zoning code and map once the plan is adopted.
Ankyloglossia is a condition present at birth that can lead to serious problems for both a child and mother. Ankyloglossia is a scary medical term that not too many people are familiar with. This condition is more commonly known, simply, as tongue-tie, which affects between 4% and 11% of newborn babies.
When tongue-tie is present, an unusually short, thick, or tight band of lingual frenulum (tissue) tethers the bottom of the child’s tongue tip to the floor of his or her mouth. Tongue-tie complications can lead to speech difficulties, challenges with other oral activities, poor oral hygiene later on in life, and all kinds of breast-feeding problems for the mother. Children with poor oral health are already three times more likely to miss school later on as a result of dental pain, and tongue-tie issues can lead to even more problems down the line.
Children should begin regular dental visits at age one. Baby teeth begin to grow around six months and since breast-feeding requires a baby to keep his or her tongue over the lower gum, the baby might chew — instead of suckle — on the nipple, leading to pain for the mother and inadequate nutrition for the baby.
In late March, a Rochester doctor was featured in PEOPLE, covering ankyloglossia, the increased amount of cases, and how it can impact breast-feeding.
“We need to have careful strategies to properly assess, manage, and discuss with parents so they can make the best decisions,” said Dr. Casey Rosen-Carole, Medical Director of Lactation Services and Programs and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and OBGYN at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “My sense is that the increased diagnosis and management of tongue-tie in the past decade is partially due to increased advocacy, increased breast-feeding rates, less willingness to ‘just bottle feed instead’ and finally, groups of physicians who will work with families and lactation consultants to treat ankyloglossia.”
Here are some common signs and symptoms of tongue-tie:
A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when it sticks out.
Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side or reaching the upper teeth.
Trouble sticking the tongue out past the lower front teeth.
Additionally, since vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million unnecessary deaths every year, it’s important to stay in contact with medical professionals.You should visit a doctor and/or dentist if any of the following are occurring:
You’re struggling with your own tongue-tie issues.
Your baby isn’t able to properly breast feed.
A speech-language pathologist recommends getting your baby checked.
Your child (if older) complains of tongue-related issues interfering with eating, speaking, or reaching his or her back teeth.
Though only 3% of patients who visit an urgent care center need to be diverted to an emergency department, it’s recommended to visit ankyloglossia and breast-feeding medical professionals if your baby is showing signs of tongue-tie or they aren’t able to properly feed.
“We know the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding for the optimal health and well-being of babies, mothers, and communities,” Dr. Rosen-Carole said. “But each woman has her own unique goals and challenges for breast-feeding her child. My role is to provide the appropriate medical services and support to help her reach those goals.”
People of color in central New York aren’t getting a fair number of jobs in the construction industry, a local study finds. According to a new study by the Urban Jobs Task Force and the Legal Services of Central New York, there’s a major racial disparity in the New York construction industry despite people of color making up a quarter of the state population.
Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2016 Construction Outlook report predicted 6% growth, with the value of construction starts reaching an estimated $712 billion. Researchers analyzed a group of construction projects taking place in New York state including the I-690 project, the Syracuse Hancock Airport Renovations, and the Lakeview Amphitheater in Onondaga.
Researchers found that 88% of the construction workers on these projects were white. Approximately 4% of workers were black or indigenous and only a few workers were Hispanic and Asian.
“Workforces are white in Central New York and we’ve seen it driving by them,” said Andrew Croom, an attorney from Legal Services of Central New York who worked on the study. “Was I ready for how white they were? No.”
The U.S. construction industry is usually a good place for American workers to earn money. Construction projects have public money in them paid for by tax dollars, beneficiaries of government grants, or tax breaks. In 2016 alone, the construction market was worth $1,162 billion and the composite materials market is expected to reach $38 billion by 2023.
The lack of inclusivity in the industry is concerning for many reasons, but especially because it keeps impoverished New Yorkers from finding good-paying jobs. Up to 16% of Rochesterians are living in extreme poverty and 15% of those in Monroe County live below the poverty line.
“You know, living in a city that’s 50% minority and 50% white, I expected a project like I-690 that’s two blocks from my house to be represented by the city where it is,” said Croom. “And it was so far from that, that yes, I found [these] results shocking.”
Urban Jobs President Deka Dancil says there are historical reasons why many people of color aren’t working in construction. The construction of Interstate 81 caused economic and racial segregation, urban renewal, and redlining.
“[This] made the networks of minorities only be with other poor minorities,” said Dancil. “And the networks of white people, for people who had the paying jobs, [were] exposed to the construction trade. I tell you … my whole time growing up in high school, I never even heard a thing about it.”
Dancil also points out that barriers such as non-paid training, lack of transportation, and lack of childcare prevent those who are already living in poverty from getting into construction programs that could lead to higher paying jobs.
Croom says that there are ways to ensure inclusivity in construction projects. LA Metro in Los Angeles is creating workforce agreements within their PLAs and have unions in the community working together.
New York state could see more collaboration with unions and have them more actively recruit in the city with targeted training, Croom says. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh recently launched Syracuse Build in an effort to train those in the city who are looking to work on the I-81 project.
However, Dancil says she isn’t as optimistic after seeing years of meetings on the topic of boosting inclusivity in the construction industry. The voices of local residents need to join those of policymakers, she says.
“I think what it comes down to [is] that there has to be a big table,” says Croom, “there has to be collective action to say ‘we’re all here. We all want the same thing.’ So, we have to work together to make those policies.”
Aldi is the common brand of a German family-owned discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries. The grocery chain was founded by Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother’s store in Essen, which had been in operation since 1913.
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Aldi’s is making its way back to the North Winton part of Rochester. Aldi’s has tried for years to open a store in the area, but were blocked by landlords and area residents. Still, the chain has to wait for Rochester to OK the signage before they start their remodeling plans, which would involve reconstructing the former Tops Friendly Markets.
“This is where it hurts,” said Mary Coffey, a co-chairperson of the North Winton Village Association. “Although we are thrilled to death about Aldi’s, the big concern is what is it going to look like?”
North Winton residents have expressed their disappointment over how the former Tops will be remodeled. The plans involve an angled roof and a combination of aluminum and masonry for the storefront veneer. Since 50% of all customers who enter a business do so because of the signage, the visual aesthetic is crucial for both organizations and consumers alike. To put it another way, nearly 85% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that signs can convey the “personality or character of the business.”
“Aldi has changed its traditional look and is going with something more modern,” added James Seitz, president of the Browncroft Neighborhood Association who opposed the original Aldi plan based on its design. “Some people have liked it, and some people think it’s too edgy for the street.”
According to Rochester City Newspaper, Flaum Management, the commercial real estate firm that owns the property, has committed to upgrading the landscaping and lighting across the plaza.
“We are committed to working with the neighborhood associations to create a property that works within the scope of the neighborhood,” said Loren Flaum, VP of finance for Flaum Management.
Local dentist Dr. Susan Bracker is taking action in the face of a national addiction crisis. She has vowed to run an opioid-free clinic in an attempt to lower the number of people who first experience the addictive drug through the prescriptions dentists give out after surgery. Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. Sadly, as of 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin.
When patients enter Dr. Bracker’s practice in Greece, the first thing they see is a sign on the door informing them of the change in procedure. Dr. Bracker believes that her small notice on the practice door is more than an indication of how that specific practice operates, but a greater sign of the times.
“I think this has affected so many people. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction,” Dr. Bracker told 13WHAM News.
Across the United States, overdoses from opioids have been increasing in men and women in most age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42,000 people died of overdoses from prescription or illicit opioids in 2016 alone.
It may seem like this addiction crisis would only affect those who struggle to manage longterm conditions, such as the six out of 10 baby boomers who are predicted to manage a chronic condition by 2030. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed the unexpected risks that prescription opioids from dentists pose to teenagers.
Every year, dentists pull 10 million wisdom teeth from patients who range in age from 13 to 30. About 80% of these patients fill the opioid prescription they receive from their dental surgeon. According to the recent study from JAMA, almost 6% of patients who fill the initial prescription are diagnosed with opioid abuse a year later. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are among the hardest hit by the addiction.
Public health officials say that the best way to combat the crisis is to tackle the opioid prescription process, which is exactly what Dr. Bracker is doing at her practice. She is encouraging patients to turn to over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol and Advil. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, a review of over 460 studies showed that taking these two medications together in appropriate doses is actually more effective than opioid medication on dental pain and leads to fewer side effects. It’s crucial for medical establishments to keep deligent records of every patient — especially when it comes to prescription medications. According to the Gartner Group, 15% of all paper documents are misplaced and 7.5% are lost completely.
“I think we’ve been programmed that, unless it’s a prescription, it isn’t as good. In most of those kinds of extractions, you really don’t need it. Most kids heal really fast and easily,” says Dr. Bracker.
At Dr. Bracker’s practice, they only break their opioid-free policy in extreme cases. Even in these instances, Dr. Bracker only allows doses of the opioid medication to cover three days, well under the seven-day recommendation from the American Dental Association. When she prescribes opioids, she also educates patients on their addictive nature and advises to take them on a strictly as-needed basis.
As 99.7% of adults believe that a healthy smile is socially important, avoiding procedures that cause dental pain is nearly impossible. However, Dr. Susan Bracker has demonstrated that avoiding the use of dangerously addictive medications is entirely possible when those giving out prescriptions take control.
Many of you have noticed our extended hiatus and have begun asking if this is the end for RocSubway. I didn’t think it would be necessary to say anything about it. But for those of you who had followed this blog like religion for so long, you deserve some closure.
A little while ago I lost my job and decided to start my own web design business instead of going back to work for someone else. That was the best decision I ever made for myself. But it also means I now work pretty much nonstop with little time for anything else. What extra time I do have, I put into growing Reconnect Rochester . Reconnect is a nonprofit organization doing amazing work to change the way transportation is viewed in Monroe County. It’s something I’m very proud of. And it began with a seed planted right here.
So I’m not going away, really. I just won’t be posting much here for the foreseeable future. In the meantime you’re welcome to join me over at Reconnect . Or perhaps I’ll run into you somewhere else, helping to make our community better in your own way.
Before I sign off, I want to say thank you.
I’ve gained much more from every RocSubway reader I’ve met (virtually and in person) than what I’ve given on these pages. Always remember there are important lessons for the future buried deep within our past. Everywhere you look in this city—behind every wall and within every person—you will find a beautiful story. We’ve only scraped the surface.
On a recent trip to New York City (my previous home) I came across a poem in the subway by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. I cannot think of better words to close with…
As you fly swiftly underground
with a song in your ears
or lost in the maze of a book,
remember the ones who descended here
into the mire of bedrock
to bore a hole through this granite,
to clear a passage for you
where there was only darkness and stone.
Remember as you come up into the light.
As some of you may have heard, bike share is coming to Rochester. I’ve considered writing about it all sorts of ways. I thought about mentioning how many other cities have it. Or how safe it is. Or even the specific plans for Rochester (warning: PDF). As you may have already guessed, I’m not about to do any of that. Instead, I’d like to discuss what bike share has meant for me over the past decade, and what it might mean for you too.
Somewhat unexpectedly, a fifth proposal for Midtown Parcel 5 was submitted. Spoiler alert, it’s, how to be polite about this, different. Ok, fine, it’s terrible. It’s bad. It’s terribad. It might even be a false flag operation to make the submitted proposals look better. I don’t know, but inexplicably it’s being taken seriously by parts of the city which is creating unrest with other parts of the city. I’d be calling for the popcorn if this weren’t the future of the middle of our town on the line.
If you spend any amount of time looking at real estate in Rochester, you might discover that there are a non-zero number of vacant properties (although not as many as you might think). Others have noticed too, and a report on them has been written by Monroe County. While some of their solutions are laudable, it seems that access to capital for renovations isn’t there. This is one of the biggest problems, whether it’s for home owners themselves or investors.
I don’t know of anyone in the world who loves parking—except maybe Lorraine Baines—but that’s not exactly the kind of parking I’m talking about here…
I’m talking about the hassle of cruising up and down the rows of a Wegmans parking lot, trying to squeeze in next to the hummer who decided he needed an extra couple of spaces, fighting the nine other drivers who won’t even entertain the thought of walking an extra twenty feet to pay $5 for a bottle of water.
When Andrea Chervenak received a letter earlier this year from the Town of Irondequoit notifying her that a sidewalk was being proposed for her street, she was thrilled. Unfortunately for Andrea, her neighbors’ front lawns are more important than her children’s safety. To hammer this nonsensical point home, some people even made lawn signs…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.