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News briefs 7.31.02 

Fountain of youth

Brad Welker and Ernest Orlando playing Peter Pan at Seabreeze.

Wife, kids, job, foot fungus, life in general got you down? Find yourself praying you won't wake up in the morning? Baptize yourself in chlorinated redemption and be saved.

                  Water parks can cure your blues and ease the heat. And no matter how much snow you've got on the roof, nobody's too old for this. These slides offer the same titillation you got as a kid rolling down a hill or washing down Pop Rocks with Pepsi.

                  This is family fun at its wet best --- but it's not exclusively for families. My posse and I visited Irondequoit's Seabreeze Park --- nine slides and a 265,000-gallon wave pool. And we weren't the only ones not pushing strollers or leading a brood around with the pained expression of a parental life sentence painted across our mugs.

                  "It's not unusual to see adults, without little ones, acting like kids, having fun," says marketing manager Jeff Bailey.

                  A water park is a great place for a date. And what better way to see your date in a bikini or banana hammock?

                  "So you're 38. So what? It helps keep you young," said Ernest Orlando prior to flying down the Zoom Tube with a blood-curdling "cock-a-doodle-do."

                  You gotta be in shape when you're in a wave pool littered with rambunctious 9-year-olds splashing and screaming and throwing elbows ... or they'll kill you.

                  You can spend all day recharging your batteries in the sun, turning your fingers and toes into raisins, and smiling so much, you'll tan your gums.

                  Where to find them? Seabreeze Raging Rivers Waterpark: 4600 Culver Road; info, 323-1900 or www.seabreeze.com. Roseland Water Park: Routes 5 & 20, downtown Canandaigua; info, 396-2000 or www.roselandwaterpark.com. Six Flags Darien Lake: 9993 Allegheny Road in Darien Center; info, 599-4641 or www.sixflags.com.

--- Frank De Blase




Studying metro?

It's the political equivalent of the Red Sox versus the Yankees: County Executive Jack Doyle and Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson going head-to-head on the contentious issue of consolidating regional governments or services. Unfortunately, the Monroe County Council of Governments won't be selling tickets to meetings of the subcommittee on Intergovernmental Cooperation and Consolidation of Services. In fact, curious citizens won't even be allowed to peek at the action through a knot in the fence; the meetings will be closed to the public.

                  "The belief is that this group can make some progress if we are not doing it in the public eye," says Johnson. Council Chair William Carpenter, town supervisor of Pittsford, says the committee's work will be made public in the form of reports presented to the full council. The committee is expected to wrap up its discussions by the end of the year.

                  The mayor has advocated taking a hard look at the pros and cons of merging local governments. Local government expense has grown, he says, while the region's population has not. And with the economy depressed and the tax base shrinking, he says, "it seems to me something has to give." Doyle has been highly critical of the concept of merging governments.

                  Johnson recently appointed former County Executive Lucien Morin and former Rochester Mayor Tom Ryan to join him on the nine-member committee. Doyle has yet to announce his appointees.

                  The participation of Morin and Ryan is significant. In the mid-1980s, the pair crafted an innovative county sales-tax sharing plan that's still on the books today.

                  Given its members' differing views on the value of merging governments, the committee's conclusions "may be a report with varied opinions," Johnson says. And if those opinions are left out of the report, he adds, "there's nothing to preclude a minority faction from putting out its views."

                  The mayor also has some pro-merger pitchers in the bullpen. Though he says he's "not at liberty to disclose" who they are yet, Johnson adds: "I can say with assurance that there are other coalitions that will come out with the announced intention to explore this." The work of these as-yet-unknown coalitions "can run concurrently with what the Council of Governments is trying to do, or be a viable alternative," he says.

                  Knowing he has such backup gives Johnson "a comfort level" that the idea of consolidating governments "is not going to suppressed," he says.




Music festing

With fans still raving about this year's two successful summer music festivals, promoters are already gearing up for next year.

                  Attendance at the Rochester MusicFest (July 14-21) hit 71,000, Mayor Bill Johnson announced on Monday. Two days of performances in Genesee Valley Park drew 27,000. Other big draws: the East End Festival (20,000), Garth Fagan Dance (6000), the Gospel Celebration (6000), and a standing-room-only RPO concert (3100). Next year's dates: July 13-20.

                  Meanwhile, John Nugent, promoter of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, will be back in Rochester next week to meet with Mayor Johnson, business leaders, and others to discuss next year's jazz fest.

                  Ink tracked down Nugent in Scotland, where he was relaxing after a successful Stockholm Jazz Festival (which his company, New York Jam, also produces). He hasn't started booking acts for a 2003 festival but, he said, "I certainly have plans to continue the event." He won't announce bookings until March, he said.




Addressing Middle East

By its nature, the Mediation Center of Rochester is a fitting place to explore solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And a group of local peacemakers is doing just that.

                  With the help of professional mediator Jack Heister, a group of Christians, Jews, Quakers, and others have formed Citizens for a Just Peace in the Middle East. The group has been meeting monthly to hammer out a consensus mission statement.

                  But it's not just talk. The group has begun circulating the statement as a petition; when enough signatures are gathered, the statements will go to federal elected officials. The effort addresses what the group feels is an unfortunate reality: "The Congress and President of the United States," says the statement, "have not provided leadership resulting in a just peace."

                  The heart of the statement is a declaration that "there need to be two distinct nations, Israel and Palestine, with [mutual] recognition of statehood." Both nations, says the statement, are to be assured "safety and security," and "human rights and dignity" must be guaranteed across the board. The statement also calls for equitable access to Jerusalem, sharing of water resources, and "adequate compensation for Palestinians and Jews who have been displaced against their will."

                  The group makes a special appeal to US hegemony, calling on the government to work with other nations to resolve the conflict and the differences that fuel it. Significantly, the group also demands a new "Marshall Plan" for Palestine funded by redirected US military aid.

                  The next meeting is scheduled for August 14. For information, contact Jack Heister, 272-1990, or e-mail heister@mediationctr.com.




Urban action

This week's call to citizenship:

                  The local chapter of the International Socialist Organization will sponsor a public meeting on "The Corporate Crime Wave: the Rot at the Root of the System," Thursday, August 1, 7:30 p.m., Rochester Central Library (Basement/SUNY Resource Center), 115 South Avenue. Free. Information: ISO, 436-3886; e-mail rochiso@yahoo.com.

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