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Metro ink - 7.26.06 

INSIDE, KIDS!

City officials are in the final stages of writing a curfew law to get minors off the streets late at night, and they hope to put it into effect as early as August 15. This summer's curfew --- which would last about 90 days --- is being considered a pilot.

Under the draft plan presented early this week, it would be a "violation" for anyone under the age of 18 to be in public places between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (Violations are a lower level of infraction than a misdemeanor, and are not a crime.)

The law would include a list of exceptions --- for children accompanied by a parent, for example, or on their way to or from school activities or work.

The law gives police the authority to detain and question youths on the streets and in other public places during prohibited hours. And if they determine that the youths are violating the curfew, police can take them to "a location designated by the Chief of Police" --- during the pilot program, Hillside Family of Agencies --- where parents will be called. The goal: to reduce crimes committed by and against minors, and to identify children and families who need help.

On Monday, City Council's Public Safety Committee met with area social-service providers, some of whom were concerned that the program did not have a clear way to measure its success and that it did not have greater involvement with the school district. They were also concerned about police officer training and how the city would handle multiple offenders. ACLU Executive Director Barbara deLeeuw raised questions about youths' rights.

The committee will hold a second meeting on the curfew at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27, to get public comments, and City Council is expected to vote on the legislation the following week.

--- Tim Louis Macaluso


SELLING THE SAINTS

In the 1960's, Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church held three masses every Sunday, attracting about 900 people to each one. Lately, there has been only one Sunday mass, with fewer than 80 parishioners attending. And the church is up for sale, with its final Sunday mass scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sunday, July 30.

Ss. Peter and Paul will be the third southwest city Catholic church to close its doors this year due to high operating costs and dwindling population. St. Augustine and Our Lady of Good Counsel closed earlier this year. Parishioners from all three churches are consolidating with St. Monica's in the 19th Ward and will be worshipping there.

There are more than 350,000 Catholic parishioners in the 12-county area of the Rochester diocese, but most attend churches in the suburbs. The decline in membership at urban Catholic churches has left the diocese with large, underutilized buildings to maintain.

Ss. Peter and Paul, a Romanesque-style structure built in 1911, is an architecturally significant building. Much of its stained glass was relocated from its predecessor, St. Peter the Apostle, built in 1835. The organ was built in 1903. A huge painting of The Last Supper looms above the altar, and near the ceiling, half-moon-shaped paintings depict Old Testament prophets.

All of this has raised concern about what will happen to the building and its art.

"The sacred art definitely would not go to the auction block or be part of the sale," says diocesan spokesperson Doug Mandelaro. "A committee will asses its value and recommend where it should be transferred. Some of it may go to St. Monica's. Some of it may go to other parishes in the area, and there has even been discussion of sending it to some of the parishes in New Orleans, where a lot of their artwork was destroyed in Katrina."

But some parishioners and area residents have hoped for a different outcome for the church.

"It's a shame," says Paul Jones, president of Neighborhood United, the area's neighborhood association. "People really don't want to see it close. A lot of people have very important memories of this church, and whenever you have a church close, a big structure like that leaves a void in a neighborhood like ours."

In addition to holding worship services, the church and its buildings have served as an important community center, operating a soup kitchen and providing temporary housing for mothers with small children.

Neighborhood United hasn't organized to try to save the church, but a University of Rochester student has started a grassroots effort, hoping to encourage the UR and the city to buy it.

"I've heard Mayor Duffy and [UR] President Seligman both say that they are looking for ways to work together for the benefit of the city," says Andrew Slominski, a fifth-year economics and art-history student. "This is the perfect joint project."

Slominski pictures a mixed-use complex with professional offices, classrooms, and performance space similar to HochsteinMusicSchool. While Renaissance Square is seen as a solution to the city's shortage of performance space, Slominski says the project puts too much emphasis on the east side of the river and ignores West Main Street.

Slominski has met with Deputy Mayor Patty Malgieri and UR Vice President Paul Burgett, but so far his idea hasn't developed much traction.

"I think it's a fair statement to say that downtown is in need of more arts performance space," says Burgett. "But moving this from an idea to a reality is extremely complex. This requires six-figure resources."

The asking price for the property is $900,000, and there are repairs to consider, including a new roof. But Mandelaro says he doesn't expect the church to sit vacant for long. St. Augustine and Our Lady of Good Counsel sold were sold within a few months, and continue to be used as churches.

"The money from the sale of those properties stayed in the diocese, and most of it went back to St. Monica's," says Mendelaro. "The same thing will happen in this case with Ss. Peter and Paul."

The church will have a formal closing ceremony, which Mandelaro says will be announced later in the summer.

--- Tim Louis Macaluso


COOL SHELTERS

As a rule, bus shelters aren't exciting. But on display at the South East Area Coalition office, 1045 South Clinton Avenue, are 46 models, part of a contest to select designs for new ARTWalk shelters. One resembles a pagoda, another an umbrella. The three winning designers will walk away with $44,000 each to create the real thing.

Similar initiatives for ARTWalk --- an urban art trail along University Avenue --- have resulted in artistic benches and lampposts. Doug Rice, the executive director of ARTWalk, says the shelters will replace the sagging plastic and metal structures at three University Avenue bus stops: at the Memorial Art Gallery, the Elton-University intersection, and Gleason Works. Nine finalists have been selected, and the final three will be announced September 17 at the annual ARTWalk Alive festival.

More good stuff is in the works, says Rice. Among them: an expansion of ARTWalk within the next few years to include part of North Goodman Street between Village Gate and East Avenue. The University Avenue portion will also be lengthened. For his next project, Rice hopes to create a rotating sculpture exhibit. Ten sculptures, he says, would be in place for a year at a time.

You can see the bus shelter models at the SEAC office between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday through September 8. Info about ARTWalk or the contest: www.rochesterartwalk.org.

--- Sujata Gupta


LATE NIGHT AT THE LITTLE

It was originally designed as an accompaniment to the East End Festival, but the Little Theatre's 11:30 p.m. showing of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction on July 14 seems to have sparked something more permanent.

The turnout of 76 people --- ranging in age from teens to people in their 50's --- is prompting the Little to plan an ongoing late-night movie program, says Executive Director Bob Russell. A number of the Pulp Fiction attendees told Russell that people who aren't into the bar scene don't have many options for late-night entertainment, so the Little will seek films it might not normally screen --- horror, sci-fi, anime --- and give them a late-night slot once a week, most likely beginning in September.

Russell says the Little staff hasn't yet decided whether the films will be shown on Friday or Saturday nights, but he does hope to have theme months and bring in guest speakers.

--- Dayna Papaleo


REMEMBERING BILL LEE

After he received his degree from Harvard, he began his career the old-fashioned way, as a stock boy. But by the time he was hired to head Sibley's in 1966, he was already an impressive retailer. And until his retirement 13 years later, he and his staff made such a splash that Rochesterians still long for the return of that big, beautiful department store.

Bill Lee, a giant among retailers and a dynamic community leader during his years in Rochester, died July 7 at his home in Vero Beach, Florida, at the age of 91. He had served on a wide variety of Rochester civic boards --- HighlandHospital, the George Eastman House, the RochesterMuseum and ScienceCenter, the Landmark Society, the Red Cross, St. John Fisher College, the Center for Governmental Research --- and he was a leader in the successful efforts to establish WXXI.

Intensely devoted to downtown, he fought back when the University of Rochester considered moving its Eastman School of Music to the River Campus. He led the efforts to create a park when St. Joseph's Church burned. Soon after his arrival in Rochester, he agreed to have Sibley's host an experimental satellite school established by the Rochester school district, and for years the store was the site of the annual Scholastic Art Exhibit.

And he loved retailing. He embraced the concept of a department store as an old-fashioned marketplace, says his daughter, Margaret Lee Braun: a hub, a town square. And in those days when retailers recognized the importance of presenting shopping as theater, he made Sibley's an experience. He wanted to create "a buzz," says Braun, "a sense of glamour."

"His favorite thing," says Braun, "was the fall festival," an annual event celebrating the arts that turned the mammoth store into a glittering showplace and brought in such celebrities as Pearl Bailey, Alistair Cook, Cab Calloway, and, as he was just beginning to get public recognition for "Roots," Alex Haley.

Family members and friends remember Lee as a man deeply committed both to Sibley's employees and to its customers. "He just believed in people," says Braun. Son Richard Lee remembers his father speaking of "our precious customers" --- which, says Lee, "I think speaks volumes."

Daughter Alyson Lee, who worked summers at her father's store, says Bill Lee insisted that his staff "never, ever, ever forget to thank the customer for shopping at your store."

"You can give them beautiful merchandise, incredible promotions, terrific prices, dazzling displays," Alyson Lee recalls her father saying. "None of those matter if they don't make the final decision to buy at your store."

A funeral mass for Bill Lee was held earlier this week in Boston. And a memorial celebration will be held in Rochester at 10:30 a.m. on September 16, at St. Mary's Church.

--- Mary Anna Towler

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