I attended last night’s City Council meeting to speak in opposition to proposed changes to Rochester’s Zoning Code. About 5 or 6 people spoke against the changes. No vote was taken on that issue this time around. So we’ll wait and see if the Mayor makes changes to his changes, or if Council will vote at a later date. In the meantime, the other HOT topic in Council’s chambers this night was community relations with the Rochester Police Department.
Police Chief Sheppard was in attendance, as was Mayor Richards to acknowledge the service of several 9-1-1 dispatchers and a RPD officer who were retiring. And during the 1-hour “Speak to Council” session where the public has a chance to speak on any topic of concern, at least 8 to 10 individuals called into question the actions and practices of the RPD – including one guy wearing an infamous mask for dramatic effect…
It’s no secret that I am wholeheartedly in favor of removing Rochester’s Inner Loop roadway which encircles downtown and chokes it off from the surrounding neighborhoods like an ever tightening noose. What we didn’t know until today was that City Council and Mayor Tom Richards feel the same…
Can I just say I love WXXI, public radio, and the Bob Smith Show. One day the topic might be the economy or politics; the next might be how to avoid lead poisoning. His guests are always relevant and the conversation is always thought provoking. Also, what other show (besides Wease) can a guy from a blog called RochesterSubway.com call and actually be put on the air?
Yesterday, Councilmember Carla Palumbo was Bob’s guest and the topic was the Mortimer Street Bus Terminal. Most of the callers denounced the project for it’s poor placement or lack of inter-connectivity with other modes of transportation. I wanted to try to move the conversation forward—beyond just this one project.
Tonight was the City Council’s final public hearing and vote on whether or not to release a portion of Mortimer Street (in the heart of downtown Rochester) to the transit authority to build a 26-bay bus terminal. I used the opportunity not to denounce the bus terminal but more so to point out that the City of Rochester has no transportation plan. Also to sharpen my public speaking skills, which, after tonight I realize can only get better. I stumbled, I was shakey, I lost my place several times, and my mouth was so dry my tongue kept making this annoying clicking sound with every syllable. But, I delivered my message and that’s what counts. Anyway, here is the text of my statement:
According to an article in today’s Democrat & Chronicle, RGRTA has decided it does not need to produce an environmental study for it’s proposed bus garage on Mortimer Street. And the project that was despised by the public and the City when it was part of Renaissance Square looks like it will be embraced warmly at next week’s City Council meeting.
Let’s be honest, this is more than just a project…
Some of you may remember our story on Harry Davis last September. At that time Harry was running a long-shot campaign for Rochester City Council. He didn’t win any of the 5 open council seats. But that didn’t discourage him. He turned right around and announced he’d be write-in candidate for Mayor in November. Mayor Duffy squashed that dream pretty easily on election day. But Harry kept at it. He promptly asked to be hired by Mayor Duffy to lead a “green” urban renewal plan for the city. The Mayor turned him down.
So now Mr. Davis is coming at things from a different angle. Last month he formed his own Political Action Committee (PAC). According to Mr. Davis this new group stands for “green, sustainable development and transportation.” Davis affirms, “The importance of sustainable and efficient transportation for Rochester cannot be overstated. This would include light rail, high-speed rail, bike paths and additional pedestrian options – all of which should complement a rational and minimalist approach to automotive traffic.”
On September 15, 2009, there’ll be a gentleman on the Democratic primary ballot for Rochester City Council. Harry Davis is a big advocate for Rochester, sustainable urban planning, and rail transit …That’s all it took for us to take notice. Mr. Davis doesn’t have a long political resume or a lot of connections with big names. He’s a graduate of Brighton High School (1969), owned an antique store on Park Avenue, ran a small alternative Rochester newspaper called The Journal, and traveled around a bit while working as a video producer for Greenpeace. From my brief conversation with Mr. Davis, I’d say whatever he lacks in political experience he more than makes up for with heart and enthusiasm. Take this self-produced anti-RenSquare ad for instance…
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.
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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.