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Critiquing the transit center, analyzing the Johnson loss

Reader feedback 11.26.03 

Transit center: 'Yes'

with some changes

The American Institute of Architects, Rochester Chapter (AIA Rochester) supports the proposition of a transit center but with some concerns. We believe that the scale and cost of such a project should reflect the values of good public design and community need.

            Public transportation is a key component of our downtown area. The key stakeholders in the design of a public transportation facility are the people. People address public space at the street level: being visible and celebrating our city from within buildings and from outside; the surreal connection between our windows that look onto the street and those that peer into them. Locating amenities for buses underground defeats this purpose. The terminal should maintain connections with the pedestrian foot traffic of the skywalks and sidewalks, providing environments that enhance our experience as only architecture can.

            The project size and program should reflect the scale of our metropolitan region. Positively, this new station can be developed and designed as a landmark to our city, its grandeur reflective of our population and scale of community. However, without anchor support in the retail or office sectors, AIA Rochester fears that a transit center with space for retail and offices may just become an additional vacancy figure within the city. We support and encourage the project to proceed, concentrating on the specific program of a transit center.

            The AIA encourages a bus terminal solution geared more closely to the needs of our city, one that addresses the current need for a transit center and plans for future expansion as a mixed-use core.

            The new bus terminal provides a fresh start for a Main Street resurgence and is a step toward growth in the development of Greater Rochester. With appropriate design elements, vocabulary, and fabric, this new facility can begin to give our Main Street the ambiance and language of a 21st-century city.

            We encourage those who are planning the growth of Greater Rochester to focus not only on the bus terminal but also on the important need for harbor development, amenities that support the success of the fast ferry, continued movement on the soccer stadium, and progress on a performing arts center. These together will encourage growth for our city and provide the amenities that tourists and local people will expect.

            The AIA Rochester Urban Design Committee will be hosting a design and planning event for Main Street (location and time to be determined) and encourages all interested parties to attend to help shape the growth of our city.

            Allen Rossignol, president-elect, Rochester chapter, American Institute of Architects

Why he lost

Regarding Christopher Roesch's letter, "Lies Win" (November 19): How does Mr. Roesch think Monroe County "blew it" by voting overwhelmingly for Maggie Brooks? Johnson may indeed have "integrity," but he is a lousy mayor. That is why he lost, and that is the bottom line.

            I worked on Maggie Brook's campaign and she was all over the county, getting the word out, getting young people excited about politics, and "blitzing" towns. Johnson thought the city alone could carry him, bottom line. That was pretty poor strategy, as the Election Day results suggest.

            Johnson's years as mayor have been, kindly, a complete disaster. Downtown is still drab. What is he going to do? He has not attracted anyone who can improve that area.

            His suggestions are lame and show nothing but lazy visions and complacency, as bold as Dick Cheney's tie patterns. A fast ferry? What will Canadians come here for? Wegmans and Nick Tahou's? Give me a break.

            This area needs jobs, and when there are no jobs, people move away. A soccer stadium? Soccer outside of the high school and college levels has never attracted a big audience. Hell, we carrot-and-stickedPele to play in New York in the 1970s, and the stadiums were half empty.

            I am one of the few people from my SUNY Geneseo class of 1990 still even in the parameter of Rochester; and I am thinking of leaving for greener pastures (even though I have a great job).

            The police have been poorly treated by Johnson and his minions; when Duffy tries to take proactive measures to curb the violence in this community, he and his force are accused of racial profiling. Rev. Graves whines and accuses, and the local news crews are there in a New York minute to cover his unintelligible cacophony of accusations and threats.

            Rochester is the murder capital of New York. What is Johnson doing about it? And in a televised debate, when it was mentioned that we're the murder capital, the mayor denied it and said: "New York City has far more murders." Duh, Mr. Mayor: They have 8 million people to less than a half million in the city. Maybe Johnson can use a version of that argument and say that we have fewer people unemployed here than in Los Angeles.

            Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb are cutting jobs and sending them overseas. I know you want to say, "Don't blame it on Johnson; Jack Doyle blah blahblahblahyadayadayada." Bill Johnson said implicitly that he would attract jobs. Has he? No.

            So Brooks' win was not just because of negative advertising or Pac Man or fear of busing big bad ghetto kids to Pittsford Mendon because of Metro Government. It was because Johnson is a terrible mayor who has destroyed the city.

            Michael Meggison, Rochester

The next steps

Regarding Jack BradiganSpula's commentary, "Potholes Ahead" (November 12): This county is going to hell in a handbasket. Did Mr. Spula or anyone else believe that if Bill Johnson had been elected, serious problems would still not loom?

            Mr. Spula's arguments seem to be hysterical. Do racism and the general "fear of the city" exist? Yes. Did that play an overwhelming role in this election? No. Most voters wanted someone fresh in light of the ongoing feud between Doyle and Johnson. And let us be realistic: There are more Republicans outside of the city limits.

            No matter who was placed in office, this county is, and has been, in a state of near crisis. Both Brooks and Johnson would have critics howling at their attempts to deal with financial problems that other counties and states are facing.

            I do look to the companion opinion by Ms. Towler ("Lessons from the Johnson Loss") as the course for the public and officials. Now is the time for all to take an active role. The voters chose Brooks, but it is still the voters who need to stay on top of the issues. They need to be part of the decisions being made every day, not just in the polling booth. Officials need to be accessible and respond to the voters.

            There are hard choices to be made for a long, long time. Officials cannot cut themselves off from the public while proclaiming to be serving in the public's interest. Make the public aware of the process; involve them; for we all need to be making compromises.

            Peter Blaszkow, Rochester

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: themail@rochester-citynews.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

            Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.

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