Monroe County has 19 towns and nine incorporated villages. Aided by short commutes, particularly between Rochester and its inner-ring of suburbs, many of these are bedroom communities. Further out you'll find more farmland and genuine, rural character. Actually, newcomers are often amazed at how quickly the city trappings can fall away if you get in your car and head east, south, or west.
But here's some news: Main Street, USA lives. Look at the village centers of places like Brockport, Scottsville, Pittsford, and Honeoye Falls. These are places that, in a time of urban sprawl and highways and megamart supercenters, are and will continue to be destinations in themselves.
One of Monroe County's oldest towns, bordering Rochester and the Genesee River, Brighton has many elegant homes and neighborhoods. Monroe Avenue extends from Rochester through Brighton, and is a nucleus for shops, restaurants, and bakeries, especially where it meets Winton Road and Elmwood Avenue at Twelve Corners.
Interesting fact: Brighton residents approved a sweeping plan to expand parkland; a new 50-acre park should be completed this year.
Top official: Sandra Frankel, supervisor
Median home price: 124,300
Offices: 784-5250, www.townofbrighton.org
The village of Brockport, within the town of Sweden, is a charming location, with the attractive SUNY Brockport campus and a still-thriving (thanks to careful efforts) Main Street. Sweden, the surrounding town, is still home to a number of fruit and vegetable farms.
Interesting fact: Brockport's downtown commercial district is on the National and State Registers of Historic Places; Sweden Town Park includes an outdoor skate park and a BMX trail.
Motto: Brockport, The Victorian Village on the Erie Canal
Top official: Josephine Matela, village mayor; Nat Lester, town supervisor
Population: 8,103 (village), 13,716 (town)
Median home price: $84,700 (Brockport); $95,300 (Sweden)
Offices: 637-5300, www.brockportny.org (Brockport), 637-2144, www.townofsweden.org (Sweden)
Chili (pronounced "schye-lye," unlike the pepper), home to Roberts Wesleyan College, is a western gateway to Rochester and growing. But while the town's population is on the rise, and it is becoming a more and more popular suburb, it still has a lot of the charm of a rural community. Black Creek runs through the town, and along it is one of the town's eight parks.
Interesting fact: There are over a dozen historic houses along Union Street; Chili has a disc golf course.
Top official: Tracy Logel, supervisor
Median home price: $101,700
Offices: 889-3550, www.townofchili.org
The village of Churchville website says, "we strive to keep our small town atmosphere," and both it and Riga (the town) accomplish that goal. There is still a lot of farmland as well as green space here: Black Creek intersects the village, the 750-acre Churchville Park has a 27-hole golf course, sports courts and fields, and snowmobile trails.
Interesting fact: Churchville is one of the communities in the county that has municipal utilities --- residents get electricity for cheap.
Top official: Donald Ehrmentraut (village mayor), Tim Rowe (town supervisor)
Population: 1,887 (village), 5,437 (town)
Median home price: $89,600 (Churchville), $104,100 (Riga)
Offices: 293-3720, www.churchville.net (Churchville); 293-3880, www.townofriga.org (Riga)
Clarkson, in the northwest corner of the county, is a rural town with a center at the crossroads of state routes 104 and 19, where a lot of historic architecture can be found.
Interesting fact: A new event, Clarkson Rodeo Days, will be held in Clarkson in 2005, including bull and bronco riding and barrel racing.
Top official: Paul Kimball, supervisor
Median home price: $104,400
This town-village combo is a down-to-earth corner surrounded by the more affluent suburbs of Fairport, Pittsford, Perinton, and Penfield, with a proud history as a factory town.
Interesting fact: In fact, an old piano factory in the village is now the Piano Works Mall, a commercial center.
Top official: David Bonacchi, mayor
Median home price: $79,200
Offices: 586-3553, www.eastrochester.org
Fairport is a desirable address, with its quaint, thriving canal-side downtown; plenty of parks and paths for recreation; Victorian-style family neighborhoods; and the affordable services of Fairport Electric, a municipally owned power company. The village of Fairport is within the town of Perinton, which is also a family-friendly place with big houses, tons of parks, a big community recreation center, and a brand-new Aquatics Center (complete with an indoor water slide).
Interesting fact: The lift bridge over the Erie Canal on Fairport's Main Street is the only bridge in the world built on a bias.
Motto: Fairport, Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal
Top official: Clark King (village mayor), James Smith (town supervisor)
Population: 5,740 (village), 46,090 (town)
Median home price: $126,600 (Fairport), $143,500 (Perinton)
Offices: 223-0313, www.village.fairport.ny.us (Fairport); 223-0770, www.perinton.org (Perinton)
The town is small in terms of land area, but has a population of nearly 30,000, and 90 percent of that land is developed, between industrial, commercial (the Wal-Mart megacenter on Chili Avenue), and residential uses. A boost to the town's 120 acres of parkland came when the owner of the former Kodak property on Elmgrove Road (closed in 2000) donated 24 acres of the industrial complex to the town. The next big project: Gates officials are interested in a $40-million proposal to renovate nine district schools expand Gates Chili High School.
Interesting fact: It was once said that more cameras were made in Gates than anywhere else in the US.
Top official: Ralph Esposito, supervisor
Median home price:$87,500
Greece offers a lot for suburbanites: 775 acres of parkland (420 of those acquired since 2002) that include a stretch of Lake Ontario shoreline and the Braddock Bay preservation area; the hopping West Ridge Road, along which you can find anything you've ever wanted; and working-class, family-friendly neighborhoods. By the end of 2006, Greece should have a new Town Hall complex and 35,000-square-feet community center on Vince Tofany Boulevard.
Interesting fact: A 2003 Morgan Quitno study found Greece to be the 13th safest community out of 354 in the nation.
Top official: John Auberger, supervisor
Median home price: $99,500
This is a very country town with a lot of elbow room (one of the largest towns in the County and one of the smallest populations), and it is a popular destination for Hamlin Beach State Park and its apple farms. Kids form Hamlin attend three school districts: Brockport, Hilton, and Kendall (Kendall's next door in Orleans County).
Interesting fact: Town supervisor Austin Warner has training as an auctioneer.
Top official: Austin Warner, supervisor
Median home price: $92,000
Those who don't live in Henrietta may only know it for its strip-mall character along West and East Henrietta and Jefferson Roads. You'll find all the chain restaurants and big-box stores you could need here --- and it's a convenient, if congested shopping destination. But off the beaten paths there are quieter residential neighborhoods and park space. Also, Rochester Institute of Technology and National Technical Institute for the Deaf --- big employers and centers of activity --- share a campus here.
Interesting fact: Town planners are looking at creating a "town center" along Calkins Road, where the town hall, library, and a park are already.
Top official: James Breese, supervisor
Median home price:$96,300
Parma is a rural community with a Lake Ontario shoreline and a number of family-owned farms and suburban neighborhoods within its borders. Hilton (the village) still retains its old charm with a central business district and draws people every October for its apple festival.
Interesting fact: Parma has an over-1000-acre park that includes a skatepark.
Motto: Hilton, The little village with the big heart
Top official:Bill Carter (village mayor), Richard Lemcke, (town supervisor)
Population:5,856 (Hilton), 14,822 (Parma)
Median home price: $91,200 (Hilton), $98,000 (Parma)
Offices:392-4144, www.hiltonny.org (Hilton); 392-9461, www.parmany.org (Parma)
This is a big, developed suburb, with lots of residential neighborhoods, expanded, somewhat dingy commercial areas (including the ailing mall), and two school districts. A Cooper-Hudson-Titus Town Center Plan is already in motion to revamp that intersection area. The town name means "where the land and waters meet." Along the Lake Ontario shoreline are the Summerville, White City, and Sea Breeze neighborhoods (Seabreeze is an old family-owned amusement park). Irondequoit Bay is popular with boaters and fishers, and you can find some impressive addresses there.
Interesting fact: In Irondequoit you'll find the Turkish Society of Rochester, a cultural center for the 3,000 Turkish Americans living in the Rochester area
Motto: A town for a lifetime
Top official: David Schantz, supervisor
Median home price: $88,700
Offices: 467-8840, www.irondequoit.org
An agricultural, rural community with patchwork-like farmlands, Mendon also has the fabulous Mendon Ponds Park, the largest park in the county. Honeoye Falls is a village whose popularity is on the rise (and along with it, housing prices). The village's old mill buildings along Honeoye Creek have been reclaimed with an eye to history, livability, and charm. Main Street is an avenue of well-preserved storefronts now housing quaint restaurants and shops.
Interesting fact: The county's highest elevations are inMendon.
Top official:Moe Bickwheat (town supervisor), Stephen Gustin (village mayor)
Population: 8,370 (includes Honeoye Falls)
Median home price:$174,000 (Mendon), $123,500 (Honeoye Falls)
Offices:624-6060, www.townofmendon.org (Mendon), 624-1711 (Honeoye Falls)
Penfield has significant industrial and retail areas within its borders and is home to Paychex, Inc., a big employer. But it's also a place to find large homes, attractive neighborhoods, and lots and lots of parkland. The town is working on turning back the clock at the busy Four Corners (the intersection of route 441 and Five Mile Line Road), making it into more of the village center it used to be.
Interesting fact: A $10 million open space plan referendum has already protected over 1,000 acres from development.
Motto: The town of planned progress
Top official:George Wiedemer, supervisor
Median home price: $137,100
Offices: 340-8600, www.penfield.org
Pittsford has a justifiable reputation as a posh locale. Homes for the most part are large and expensive; and Pittsford Village, a well-preserved center that still functions as a downtown, is full of specialty shops and boutiques.
Interesting fact: The Wegmans supermarket in Pittsford is locally renowned for its overall wow factor; a restaurant called Tastings recently opened there.
Top official: Bill Carpenter (town supervisor), Bob Corby (village mayor)
Population: 27,219 (town), 1,418 (village)
Median home price: $145,600 (village), $183,100 (town)
Offices: 248-6200, www.townofpittsford.com (town); 586-4332, villageofpittsford.org (village)
Rush is a commuter suburb with a rural character and is the town with the smallest population. This means lots of open space, including a long border along the Genesee River, the Lehigh Valley Trail, and forested areas.
Interesting fact: Rush has one of New York State's best examples of an oak opening, a rare area of trees in a savanna-like landscape.
Top official: Bill Udicious, supervisor
Median home price: $135,400
Offices: 533-1312, rushconnections.com
The rural town of Wheatland, named in 1821 for its award-winning wheat crops, is complemented nicely by lovely Scottsville, with its historic homes and storefronts clustered around Route 383. The lush Genesee Valley Greenway, a favorite among hikers, runs through Wheatland.
Interesting fact: Oatka Creek is a popular spot for at least two activities: trout fishing and water tubing.
Top official: Stephen Bowman (village mayor); Linda Dobson (town supervisor)
Population: 2,128 (village), 5,149 (town)
Median home price: $90,500 (Scottsville), $97,000 (Wheatland)
Offices: 889-4700 (Scottsville), 889-1553, www.townofwheatland.org (Wheatland)
The town, Ogden, has residential neighborhoods, light industry, and farms --- which make it a great destination for U-Pick fruit fields and farm markets. Spencerport, the village, has neighborhoods of Victorian-style homes, a small-town-feeling center along Union Street, and the Erie Canal running right down the middle of it all.
Interesting fact: The Ogden Farmers' Library is a county hub for genealogy research.
Motto: ...Someplace special!
Top official: Theodore Walker (village mayor), Gay Lenhard (town supervisor)
Population: 3,559 (village), 18,492 (town)
Median home price: $112,000 (Spencerport), $114,400 (Ogden)
Offices: 352-4771, www.vil.spencerport.ny.us (Spencerport), 352-2100, www.ogdenny.com (Ogden)
Webster has community pride, and residents are active in the schools, libraries, and sports and recreation programs. They're also dedicated to preservation: The historic look and feel of Webster Village is under watch, and the town's Open Space plan just saved 1,000 acres from development. A Xerox Corporation manufacturing site and a Paychex data center are here.
Interesting fact: In May 2004, Sports Illustrated chose Webster as the number one "Sportstown" in New York State.
Motto: Where Life is Worth Living
Top official: William Ruoff (village mayor), Cathryn Thomas (town supervisor)
Population: 5,216 (village), 37,926 (town)
Median home price: $122,800
Offices: 265-3770, www.villageofwebster.com (village), 872-1000, www.ci.webster.ny.us