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Metro ink - 4.12.06 

ON THE MARCH

Immigrants and citizens, peace activists and Hispanic community leaders, city officials and members of the faith community: some 250 people walked from the FederalBuilding downtown to a rally at St. Michael's Church at North Clinton and Clifford Avenues on Tuesday, protesting proposed federal legislation imposing harsh penalties on immigrants who have entered the country illegally. | The messages, from marchers and rally speakers, were similar to those at protests throughout the country: undocumented immigrants are workers, not criminals. They are people trying to help their own families, people who provide important services, who put food on Americans' tables. "Every time they buy milk," said Teresa Quevado, "they pay taxes." | "If this situation continues," said Quevado, who is a Cuban immigrant, "we'll be living in a communist country. I came from a communist country." | The Senate has not been able to reach an agreement on an immigration bill, but the House of Representatives has approved a bill that would criminalize illegal immigrants. Voting for the bill were local representatives Randy Kuhl, Tom Reynolds, and Jim Walsh. Against: Louise Slaughter.


PLAYSCHOOL

First there was the act of Congress. Now enjoy the music of No Child Left Behind. Six teachers at PenfieldHigh School formed the band to play for student events and benefits.

"Play, as in music, is probably being generous," says Rob Unkless, the group's lead guitarist and PHS biology teacher. "We really just play to have fun."

Unkless is joined by bassist Tim Graves, guitarist and vocalist Paul Gabbey, lead vocalist Dave King, drummer Kevin Stewart, and guitarist Jeff Henley.

Henley, a PHS social studies teacher, is also a Rochester School Board member.

"We try to play things that the students like along with things that we like. That way we get introduced to some of their music and we introduce them to some of ours," Henley says.

Ask the guys about their musical influences and you'll hear everything from Weezer to Abba, with a little country western thrown in for fun.

"We all have very different tastes," says Henley. "It's the only band you'll ever hear that plays punk, metal, and Genesis in the same 30-minute set."

No Child Left Behind has played for Students against Destructive Decision-Making and the Golisano Children's Center. Later this year, they'll play in a battle of the bands to benefit PHS film students.

"We've had a few gigs recently," says Graves. "We try to work in conjunction with what the students are working on. It's all about the students. We wouldn't dream of doing this in a serious way. But they get a really big kick out of us. They usually scream for more, but by then our ears are ringing. We've even had some crowd-surfing at one of our concerts."

Penfield's students, figures Graves, probably never thought they'd be surfing in the cafeteria.

--- Tim Louis Macaluso


MORE CITY LIVING

Is he doing this out of civic commitment? Not really, says Nick Costanza, co-owner of Costanza Enterprises development firm. He's motivated by profit. And he's convinced he can make it developing housing in Rochester.

His newest project is an approximately 100-year-old brick building at the intersection of Railroad and Main Streets, a few hundred yards from the Public Market. "Up on the second floor," he says, "we're going to put some small studio loft apartments, and on the first floor we're going to make kind of like an indoor extension of the Public Market."

Costanza's reason for buying the Railroad Street property about five years ago wasn't terribly complicated: "I'm always snooping around for stuff," he says, "and I saw it and liked it and bought it." Then some other projects came along, and the Railroad Street building was put on the back burner. Now, however, construction has begun in earnest, and Costanza thinks the building will be completed by September or October.

He is, he agrees, "taking a risk on this." Naturally, it's one that he thinks will pay off. His other ventures include the successful conversion of the TempleBuilding on Franklin Street downtown into luxury lofts.

For the Railroad Street building, Costanza envisions something different: artists' lofts. Each of the 16 studio apartments will be equipped with kitchenettes and bathrooms. He's creating indoor parking for tenants who choose to live in their workplaces. Rent, he says, will be around $650, excluding utilities.

Downstairs, Costanza hopes to create an indoor market, the Station Market. The ground floor can accommodate about 100 vendors, says Costanza, who plans to charge slightly less per stall than the Public Market. And unlike Public Market vendors, those setting up shop in the Station can remain open all week long. Costanza estimates that there should be room for about 50 cars in front of the building.

Don't expect the next Gap or Banana Republic, though. "You look at the mix and makeup at the Public Market vendors, the majority of them are small farmers," he says. "What'll be nice here, it'll be cheap for someone like that."

Strip malls may be today's hot commodity, and Costanza could have demolished the building and started from scratch. It would have been easier, he says, than refurbishing the dilapidated building. But the building's architecture, history, and charm are valuable, he says. Ten-foot-tall windows run the length of the building. The building's posts and beams are made of chestnut.

For those worried about having trains as neighbors, Costanza scoffs. "We kind of think that's nice," he says.

--- Sujata Gupta


MUSICFEST DEAL SEALED

Planning for this summer's Rochester MusicFest, scheduled for July 8 and 9 at Frontier Field, got officially underway last week when City Council approved a contract with local radio station WDKX to run the event.

Despite reservations, councilmembers unanimously approved the $721,750 contract at a special meeting on April 4. Late last year, Council had approved spending $830,000 on New York City-based Lead Dog Marketing, but after Mayor Bob Duffy took office in January, he scuttled the plan, saying he wanted the city to hire local talent whenever possible.

DKX may lack Lead Dog's experience with large-scale events and with booking national acts, but the general manager for MusicFest will be former Rochester Broadway Theater League vice president Nancy Calocerinos. Her long tenure there included working on such productions as the touring shows of "Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon." Now president of her own marketing firm, Calocerinos has been consulting for DKX for about a year.

Booking for MusicFest will be handled by DKX's André Marcel Langston. And Calocerinos says DKX has the clout to attract big names. The lineup for the station's 32nd anniversary concert (scheduled for April 30 at the Eastman Theatre), will include, among others, Ne-Yo and Fantasia, the 2004 "American Idol" winner.

A major concern about this year's MusicFest is the late start in planning. At last week's City Council meeting, several councilmembers noted that booking for acts typically starts in January. "There isn't a whole lot of time to pull off this event," said Councilmember Bill Pritchard. "We are starting, if you will, behind the curve on this." But Calocerinos says that Langston began speaking informally with artists about three weeks ago. Performers, she says, will be announced in early May.

Calocerinos says DKX is also looking to bring in a Friday night act at HighFalls. "Now that we're back down at Frontier Field, it would be great for us to sort of to encompass the area," she says, referring to the city's decision to move the event back downtown.

--- Sujata Gupta

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