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Public transit must get better

This was a very good series of articles (Creating Downtown). But while the final segment ("How do we keep the current growth going?" March 30) highlights two prominent P's — people and parking — it seems to overlook a third critically important and intricately linked one: public transportation. The Greater Rochester area's public-transportation options, limited primarily to city buses and taxi cabs, are woeful.

Once upon a time, people here talked about the need for better public transportation, including light rail. Why is there no more discussion? Rochester will never reach its potential without better public transportation to bring more people downtown without necessarily creating a need for more parking.

Envision a Mount Hope line linking the University of Rochester and RIT with downtown (solving many college students' dilemma of a lack of transportation); a Monroe line connecting St. John Fisher and Nazareth colleges to center city; a Charlotte line linking it to downtown; and a much-needed airport line. Visitors flying into ROC have very limited options to get around, unlike vibrant cities such as Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis that feature convenient and affordable light rail from their airports.

Unfortunately, it's too late to use the historic Hojack Swing Bridge to link Charlotte with Sea Breeze via light rail. But it's not too late to restart a discussion about improving Rochester's overall poor and embarrassing public transportation options.

If not, expect future discussions about downtown Rochester's "momentum" and "resurgence," which, I predict, might otherwise never be quite fully sustained or realized.


Conservation requires constant effort

In her very valuable, informative, and worrying letter of April 6, Linda Levitan drew attention to the infestation of black swallow-wort in parks and woodlands around Rochester and to the serious consequences for the monarch butterfly population.

As she points out, black swallow-wort is one of many invasive species responsible for impoverishing natural landscapes, degrading and even destroying them as effectively as if they had been scoured by a bulldozer. The problem is extraordinarily widespread, affecting landscapes we might like to think of as pristine. Even the famous trout streams of the Catskills, for example, are lined with thickets of Japanese knotweed.

What to do? Black swallow-wort and other invasive plants are extremely difficult and time-consuming to eradicate. Practically, it will be necessary to select sites of particular scientific and/or aesthetic value for intervention, which must usually be maintained for years to have an effect.

One such site is the "sacred wood" of Washington Grove, adjoining Cobbs Hill Park in the City of Rochester, an old-growth forest of great interest for its geological character, its ancient trees, and its wildlife, and a favorite area for gentle recreation for many Rochesterians.

Here, a dedicated band of volunteers has worked for several years, with the support of the city, to rid the forest of noxious invasive plants, which not only supplant the indigenous species (especially the white and black oaks), but also do not match the oaks and hickories in their capacity to harbor and sustain a wealth of birds, insects, and other organisms.

I invite readers who do not know Washington Grove to visit this special place. Also I urge all readers to consult the Facebook page of the Friends of Washington Grove, which provides information about the achievements of the Friends so far, as well as about forthcoming workdays on which volunteers are always welcome.

The Friends also seeks funding for its ongoing campaign of planting lost species in the Grove, especially in the herb layer (which in many preserved forests has been largely lost to deer).

Finally, to return to Ms. Levitan's concern for monarchs and in response to the general disappearance of pollinators, one of the Friends' projects is the creation of a wildflower garden on the edge of the Grove toward Cobbs Hill reservoir.

Rochester has good reason for pride in its park system; now Washington Grove is becoming a model of stewardship of natural resources in an urban park.


'Desert' review was way off

I'm so glad that I only have ever trusted a critic as much as a used car salesman. This show ("Other Desert Cities," theater review, April 6) was phenomenal; I honesty felt like I was viewing a real family. From the set to the dialogue, I think they nailed this performance.

Marlo was absolutely flawless playing Brooke. I could tell she was emotionally invested in this part; I really felt for her character. Danny K. was a stud as always playing Trip. Each cast member was perfect for the part that was played.

I went home totally satisfied in the production. I wish it were longer!


Rochester has a trash problem

It is heartwarming to see many of the improvements in the downtown area. I find myself in and around there, plus many of the residential areas of Rochester, on a regular basis. One thing that would improve the look of the city greatly would be a massive cleanup effort and advertising campaigns to try and keep it clean.

There is so much trash flying around; it is very unsettling for a city in this wealthy country to have the filth that it does. Many feel that it is a problem for developing nations, but truly it is a problem right here in our own back yard.


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