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Jim Crow Museum could take carousel panel

Recently, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo determined that any decisions on the Ontario Beach carousel rest with the City of Rochester, i.e. the City Council and the mayor's office. Many ideas have been proposed: leaving the panel as it is, adding an explanatory text, moving the panel to storage, donating the panel to a local museum, or destroying the panel.

There is another option. The internationally known Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, has offered to take the panel, free of charge, and display it. As explained to me by the museum's founder, Dr. David Pilgrim, the museum is constructing new showcases ideally suited for the panel.

Furthermore, Dr. Pilgrim says that the panel could be returned to Rochester anytime in the future.

The panel is not suitable for the MAG collection. And RMSC hasn't made a proposal to take the panel.

I have repeatedly told officials about the Jim Crow Museum option and received no responses.

Supposedly, decisions on the panel are to be made before the spring. I can foresee the worst case: the panel gets dumped in some storage space and forgotten, and we miss the chance to loan the panel to the Jim Crow Museum.

Come on, City Council and the mayor's office, give Dr. Pilgrim a call.


A big opportunity in Penfield

Towns rarely get a "do-over." Usually they grow, cancer-like, over years of boomerang reactions to housing-roads-shopping strip requests. Officials may draw up zoning restrictions and daydream about a perfect scenario, but usually by that time, the die is cast. Traffic is a spaghetti-tangle and dreams of charming neighborhoods are instead mind-numbing nightmares.

By a miraculous stroke of luck, Penfield is being handed a giant do-over. Smack in the center of this suburban housing sprawl, nearly 700 acres suddenly loom large and empty. Two golf courses have hit the market and undoubtedly will go for the highest $$$.

Sitting squarely between these two gigantic pieces of real estate is a huge quarry that will become a sizable lake as soon as the pumps are turned off and it is allowed to fill with underground spring water.

Just imagine this gift! With a little finesse, purchase of the quarry to add to the land mass opens a gem that could become the pride of Monroe County.

Town officials enacted a building moratorium, the first step in halting another subdivision, while they look for additional information. I hope they get the community involved in discussions and bring in professional facilitators such as Project for Public Spaces and our own Community Design Center of Rochester. State representatives need to be involved.

What if, for example, they decided to build a high-end hotel with nine-hole golf course, hiking and bike trails that fade into unique housing choices? Or what about building a brand new Town Center?

Penfield residents are concerned about change and maintaining property values, but nothing in Upstate New York compares to the increased property values in a wonderfully designed community such as Seaside, Florida, and a prize-winning community in Davidson, North Carolina, that incorporates various levels of housing with a dog park, playground, church-performance center, and a block or two of mixed-use commercial. Property values have surpassed anything in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County area over the last 10 years.

Bravo to the Penfield Town Board and supervisor for recognizing the importance of this opportunity. Now the community must get behind, beside, or if necessary, in front and insist on exciting change.


The uncertain future of single-payer

Single-payer health care has been the centerpiece of the progressive agenda for over 70 years. In the words of Dr. King: "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." To sacrifice that vision over misguided notions of pragmatism is not only a failure of imagination, but a grave disservice to the 30 million Americans who are still uninsured (and the millions more who remain underinsured).

Secretary Clinton seeks to paint herself as the pragmatic candidate, but even more modest proposals will struggle for purchase in our current Congress. Until we insulate our political system against the corrosive influence of outside money (and that includes pharmaceuticals and private insurers), very little real progress can be made.


Incubators not good at growing business

You'll notice that most of the innovative entrepreneurial businesses that the story mentions grew organically (Creating downtown, part two: Business grows in the center city, January 27). The notion of business incubators is great in that they put lots of people in buildings doing stuff. But they are not especially successful at actually growing businesses.


Residents are important, too

An alliance of neighborhood groups is fighting a proposed apartment complex on East Main Street.

The issue is not a few apartments for people with developmental disabilities or the repurposing of an existing building (News, January 27). This proposed complex would destroy the entire character of a whole neighborhood that is currently a stable, working-class community that has put enormous effort into building itself. The rights and needs of homeowners and longtime residents should be of equal importance to the desires of developers.


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