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Re: “The fate of Parcel 5

I am very much on the side of the activists and artists and of more green space, but I see activists here making the same mistakes that a lot of the activist groups that I was part of in New York City were making. We thought that in the spirit of Jane Jacobs and of doing the right thing that somehow the developers would eventually buckle. What happened in New York City over the years is that a succession of mayors and of council members were working in collusion with developers who funded the politician's campaigns every election cycle. And of course it still happens every cycle and Rochester is no exception. And even when a nice park was created in New York City, like the Highline or on the Dumbo Waterfront, it only increased the condominium development and attraction of extreme wealth, gentrification, segregation, etc. Beautiful parks were built, but they became playgrounds for the rich and for tourists. Look at all the real estate surrounding the world's most famous park, Central Park.

There will have to be more than protests and minor fundraising if we are to get more green space in Rochester and other cities. The key is really to come up with a much better plan than the developers and that's not hard to do ... but the better plan is not there yet and activists often have limited time to contribute, as developers are working full-time and with unlimited funds and resources and teams of lawyers, politicians, and backroom collusion to complete their goals.
Rochester is going through heavy development and has a mayor and city council that is completely on board with extreme gentrification, as we all know.
There really needs to be a new vision among the ranks of the activists if the battle against the developers is to be won.

In New York City, the mayor there, Bill de Blasio, was one of the biggest gentrifiers while he was a council person and he continues to be as mayor, but he poses as progressive. And activists have lost every battle there so far. The development in New York City right now is as bad as it was during the era of Robert Moses. And that's happening in Rochester currently. Even with activists clamoring and rents continue to rise very quickly here. Parcel 5 has become a very convenient distraction for developers - they have kept the activists energies there while they're developing everything else in the city ... the Inner Loop is a perfect example. Public space being turned into condos - while all of the attention is on Parcel 5. And the Inner Loop is a much bigger space.

Activists need to do more than protest and have bake sales. They need to form solid and visionary alliances with developers, with Council members who will not double-cross them, and with the police department and the rest of the community. Another example: Look at the space next to Dinosaur BBQ. Look at every other space around town and realize that Parcel 5 is being used as a lightning rod for developers to distract and divert atrention and they are happy with activists spending all their time and energy on Parcel 5, as condos are being built on the Inner Loop.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by MichaelR on 07/19/2018 at 11:32 AM

Re: “The fate of Parcel 5

It seems like it's the usual unremarkable drama. Corrupt politicians getting kickbacks from hungry and insatiable developers in exchange for quid pro quo campaign funds, then sending out their lackeys to explain why it's good. The inexperienced activists posing for photos, feigning wisdom and experience, standing by Parcel 5, while the rest of the city has condos going up quicker than you can say "photo-op"...( Lovely and the City Council will get to Parcel 5 when they're ready.)

Junior artists and novice humans are getting promoted as heros by the local paper, that relies on these self-appointed heros for the same quotes and identical photos whenever the issue comes up in the cycle. And people reading it somewhat aghast and then exhausted and then wondering what living on a commune would be like... better than the urban monied commune patrolled and occupied by the RPD and other street gangs?

And what about City paper having promoted the Lovely Warren waterfront development in an issue from a few months ago in a way that seemed more like a promotional press release than any actual news, seeming more like a missed opportunity to expose the same shady dealmaking as Parcel 5, but with less attention paid to it from notable local yokels posing in activist garb and/or faux-combat fatigues. Notably, there are a lot of friendships between the press and some of the high-flying mayoral and Council staff and the police have always protected landowners in this country and around the world. The activists are going to continue to get their photo-ops and their attention from City and WXXI, etc., but will fail to stop development, as the attention to Parcel 5 has become a nice distraction from the rest of the intense development in every other corner of the city, meanwhile everyone gets their 15 minutes-plus of attention (feeling famous, a bit) and parlays that into their actual careers outside of standing for photo-ops. The developers have a full staff of lawyers and connections to the Council, the mayor's office, and the RPD, as well as the press. How can they lose? They don't lose.

This has happened for decades in NYC and Boston and SF and every other city. Do the Council care about greenspace? They trot out the wistful rhetoric but take the easy money from the developers, rather than work harder for their paychecks... that come out of our paychecks. The activists will eventually have to go home to read a book or watch a movie, while the ground will be broken on a new project there in Parcel 5, even if the RPD have to send 24/7 security, etc. Look to NYC and elsewhere to see how developers always win in the current top-heavy dynamic with inexperienced people leading the "resistance" by showing outrage and fashion choices and little else.

If you want to win this battle, you have to elect politicians who are not corrupt and you have to have a better plan on paper than the developers. You'll also need a team of lawyers who work full-time and the vision and patience to carry the project to its conclusion. Otherwise, don't waste your time. Lovely Warren and the City Council are gentrifiers and they do not intend to stop because you told them to. You're standing in the maw of a relentless machine that keeps eating you and the city for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Luck is for the ill-prepared. You need a plan.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by MichaelR on 07/18/2018 at 4:09 PM

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