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Not our children, not our problem

WHEW! We can now all breathe a sigh of relief regarding the current illegal-child problem.

After hearing about the Fed's initial investigation of the possible use of local buildings to temporarily house these kids, we all jumped to the conclusion that thousands of kids would be dumped on our communities at our expense.

Luckily, it was decided that these building did not meet the Feds' needs. We all agreed that something should be done, but being good hard-working New York taxpayers, we decided instead to point fingers at who was to blame for this situation while knowing that we could go to the beach, (assuming we could find a place to park), bury our heads in the sand, and let another community assist in solving this immediate crisis.

BILL SAUERS

Larry Glazer and the future of downtown

Larry Glazer talks of expanding the definition of downtown beyond the walls of the Inner Loop ("The Patron Saint of Downtown," News) – concurrent with a Business Investment District proposal that in essence focuses upon the little Midtown section of Main Street, and ignores (as have so many over the years) Rochester's 'Inner City,' the Clinton-Joseph-Hudson Avenue corridors. Go Larry, and pooh on the BID proposal as written – which pointedly ignores the blighted and poverty-stricken area that sits but a mere few hundred yards north of Mr. Glazer's projects.

It has taken us four years, but the Joseph Avenue Business Association has spearheaded a now-completed Vision Plan for the corridor. Drive us toward the end of the summer and see our banners hanging prettily from the telephone poles, decorated bike racks, four murals from the Wall Art Therapy program, a new bus shelter – and more to come. Shop us for products and foods that can't be purchased elsewhere in Rochester – and experience an area that, although perhaps poor, is full of life and living human beings, music, gaiety, talent, and fun.

Expand the BID proposal to include the area north of Main Street to Avenue D – follow Larry Glazer's advice – an area that boasts far more city businesses than does Main Street-Downtown, and enhance the shopping and living experience for us all. Expanding the definition of Downtown, and improving the development throughout, only serves to strengthen the core, and thus strengthen the region.

NEIL R. SCHEIER, M.D.

Scheier is vice president of the Joseph Avenue Business Association.

An optimist among naysayers: what a breath of fresh air ("Downtown's Patron Saint"). Thank you for refreshing the minds of Greater Rochester of the incredible central cities in America. Rochester's potential can be seen 60 miles to the west.

Your understanding of risk (which our region is often averse to) remains an important component of change. Downtown has left the starting gate of a new future; let's hope the crowds cheer and join in the race. I certainly will!

STEPHEN KARL

Patron Saint of downtown? Seriously? Could this interview be any more one-sided?

When I saw the cover of City Newspaper I was stunned. It is hard to get the true story out of corporations, but I think it is time for developers to pay their own way rather than sucking up our diminishing resources.

There is nothing in this piece about all the money that Buckingham Properties has taken from the city, county, and state. There is nothing about the purchase of valuable real estate from the city for pennies on the dollar, if that. Nothing about the failed job development that caused Buckingham Properties to have tax incentives taken away by New York State.

Most companies don't hire new employees when they move; they just shift them around from place to place and get tax breaks.

Fair and balanced article? I think not.

DOROTHY PAIGE

It's very disappointing that Mr. Glazer subscribes to the fallacy that parking in suburban areas is "free." It's not free; it's just bundled into the cost of the development. If tenants or residents or employees of suburban development had to pay the $2,500 to $3,500 land and construction costs per space for surface parking lots, the thinking on "free" parking might be very different.

It's very disheartening to hear Mr. Glazer say that without parking "you have almost nothing to give people." That's an extremely pessimistic view of the city, in my opinion. Without parking you still have the architecture, art, culture, streets, parks, history, and community of the city, things that don't exist to the same degree in auto-oriented suburban areas with "free" parking.

Parking may be, as Mr. Glazer says, "a fact of life" here and now. But unless progressive developers seek to change that and help nudge the market in a different direction by offering mobility choices (unbundled parking costs, developer or employer-paid transit passes, bicycle storage rooms and shower facilities, car-sharing arrangements, etc.), this community will perpetuate the vicious cycle of more parking, leading to streets that people don't want to walk down, leading to more people driving and demanding parking at the front door. Downtown becomes nothing more than a handful of nicely rehabbed buildings appended to parking garages.

Some of Mr. Glazer's apparent views on downtown reminded me of a conversation I once had with a real estate broker who said: "I get calls from clients all the time that want to be downtown. They just want cheap, convenient parking." Well, then, those clients don't really want to be downtown. They say they do, but they really have no clue about how real urban places truly function.

That mentality is frustratingly pervasive in Rochester. People say they want downtown to succeed, but when it comes down to the details and the sacrifices they might have to make, like maybe taking the bus, or parking a few blocks away from their destination, or interacting with people who might not be the same class, race, or mental health status as you, people from this region just get lazy and find the McMansions of the P towns and the office parks of Victor too easy.

URBAN EXPLORER

Music rising?

Ms. Towler, every year you indeed do comment on how the Jazz Fest gives us a glimpse of what the city could be (Urban Journal: "Downtown Rising?"). There may be a connection to this anecdote: Over the last decade or so, many of my fellow musicians in Rochester have noted that the music scene has picked up. We all work a lot more than we used to (15 or 20 years ago).

Maybe some Rochesterians have learned that live music is really fun and they want to support it more often than once a year? Maybe fewer suburban people are afraid of "the city" than they used to be?

I'm probably naive in saying this, but if the jazz fest gives us a glimpse of what we could be, why weep about our lack of Fortune 500 companies? We have one of the most musical cities in the country. Is it possible that re-branding and investing in Rochester as a music city, rather than a tech and financial city, could be the path to Rochester fully realizing herself?

Another related note: The Rochester school district (with the help of the Rochester Education Foundation) has been investing heavily in the musical education of its students. If that trend continues, perhaps all of Rochester's residents will get a taste of how music can transform individuals and communities.

ALAN MURPHY

Rochester is already a music city (training, education, and new-music testing ground). However, there are no major record labels in Rochester and not enough music venues of mid-size and larger to make Rochester a Music City like Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York City. If I had a lot of money, I would not risk it on anything but medical, service, info tech., manufacturing, and green technology businesses.

CRM 135790

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