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WEST ON MAIN: DEVELOPING A STRING OF PEARLS

Op-ed 

WEST ON MAIN: DEVELOPING A STRING OF PEARLS

Speaking as a resident of Main Street near the SibleyBuilding, I found "The State of Main" (April 14) thoughtful regarding pedestrian traffic. Its scope, however, was woefully shortsighted. It neglected the West Main corridor from the Cascade District to Bulls Head.

            With the fast ferry, enclosed BroadStreetBridge-ErieCanal tribute walkway, Susan B. Anthony House preservation, and new FrederickDouglassMuseum, heritage tourism in Rochester needs development now. These and other undeveloped cultural pearls form a necklace stretching from Broad Street to Bulls Head along the West Main corridor.

            East Main is doing well, reaping the rewards of urban development in the Cultural District near the Eastman Theatre. The number of downtown residents in the East End is slowly but surely reaching a critical mass with upscale housing targeted at empty nesters. Renovation of the TempleBuilding is nearing completion.

            But the West End, historically Bulls Head, lost the urban-development focus in the early 1990s when the city shifted its interest and funding to the UpperFalls. Plans for development near St. Mary's Hospital fell victim to the pursuit of entertainment.

            The West Main Street area westward of the showcase Cascade District has the "iron collar" of the Inner Loop bridge, which serves as a psychological barrier to pedestrian traffic.Rochesterians tout Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate, yet its beautiful former railway terminal building is deteriorating rapidly. Restoration would promote pedestrian traffic from Corn Hill residents and downtown hotels. Vest-pocket parks with security measures are steppingstone necessities.

            Within 50 yards of the Inner Loop bridge at 217 West Main is a large outdoor historical landmark waiting to be restored at very low cost: a second-story 1944 presidential campaign mural. Bleeding through an exterior coat of brick red paint is the visible inscription, "victory, peace, jobs, security: Vote for Roosevelt." The huge block lettering can be seen from vehicular traffic from West Broad and West Main Streets.         The final pearl in this necklace is the stunning display of sacred art at Saints Peter and Paul Church at 720 West Main. This church has a rich 161-year history with fascinating tales from Rochester's early history.

            The synergy of historical connections will aid West Main development. Collaboration among the people linked to the historical sites needs the coordination and financial support of government at all levels working with groups devoted to cultural preservation.

            John E. Curran, East Main Street, Rochester Curran is a core planner for Neighborhood United, a grassroots neighborhood-improvement group serving the West Main and Brown Streets area.

  • WEST ON MAIN: DEVELOPING A STRING OF PEARLS

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