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FEEDBACK 3/12

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Park bridges must be saved

I can see from the article on the possible destruction of the historic Olmstead bridges in Genesee Valley Park that officials at the Department of Transportation are singing their old song again ("Bridges Make Save List," News). They first started singing about destroying these Olmstead bridges in 1970 as an "economic necessity" to accommodate what was called the Outer Loop (now called Route 390), which crushed the heart of the park.

The only reason these graceful additions to the old park still exist is because a little-remembered grassroots environmental group called ACTFORE – Action for the Environment – sprang up to save part of Genesee Valley Park from destruction by the combined forces of the DOT and the University of Rochester, which wanted to build a law school on 38 acres of the most historic, memorialized section of the park.

That privatization plan was to be accompanied by the US Army Engineers, who proposed to wreck the meandering beauty of Red Creek through the park by confining it to a concrete ditch.

The basic story back in the 70's was about powerful public and private institutions running roughshod over users of a popular, inner-city people's park. The preservation answer back then is the same as the answer now. People should fight to preserve our historic park by leaning on the responsible agencies to make preservation of these beautiful bridges a higher priority than tearing them down using the excuse of public safety or insufficient money for repairs.

HUGH MITCHELL, ROCHESTER

Whose rights are violated?

Mary Anna Towler claims that an Arizona bill would've discriminated against LGBTQ folks ("Religious Freedom and Our Other Rights," Urban Journal). Actually, it discriminates against those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, as the Bible states.

Towler worries that the Arizona bill – which was not signed by Governor Brewer – would "impose religious beliefs on other people." But it's those who believe in traditional marriage who would've been forced to service gays/gay marriages who would've been discriminated against and would've had beliefs imposed on them.

Towler writes about the protection of the Constitution. I wonder if this is the same Constitution that Obama has violated repeatedly.

SAM PALERMO, ROCHESTER

Spend on repairs, not bus terminal

City and RGRTA officials are applauding the potential early completion of the downtown transit center. I, for one, cannot join in that acclaim.

While officials praise the enclosure as a benefit to bus riders, they ignore the fact that routing buses in this structure will lengthen commute tine. It will also increase the walking distance of riders to their respective designations unless they are traveling to locations north of Main Street between Clinton Avenue and St. Paul Street. Riders were not happy last May when they had to walk up to Broad Street to board the buses, which normally stopped on Main Street.

Instead of millions of dollars for this structure, the best interests of bus riders would have been to enlarge and improve some of the current bus shelters and create additional ones where needed. I can cite at least a couple of locations on the Lake Avenue line where several riders wait without a shelter in adverse weather conditions. The price of these improvements would have been tens of millions less than this edifice.

No study has cited the effect on Pleasant Street, the small side street just north of this structure. Further, there are plans to make Clinton Avenue and St. Paul Street two-way streets. Those streets are already congested and bottlenecked during rush hour. There is no space on either one for widening them.

A recent television news report cited specifics wherein money collected through gasoline and other taxes was diverted and used for funds other than highway and structural maintenance. This report cited the woeful conditions of several bridges and roads in the Greater Rochester area.

A newspaper report further cited the costs to motorists and taxpayers of the deteriorated infrastructure in this community. How much better if those funds had been spent repairing the deplorable bridges and roads in this county.

If one of the purposes of building the bus terminal was to provide construction jobs, those jobs would have better served the community had they been focused on road and bridge maintenance.

JAMES R. BOEHLER, ROCHESTER

Warren and the race issue

Mayor Lovely Warren's missteps in her first few weeks in office could simply be getting "off track," as she said in her apology to city residents. Things seem to have settled down since then. Good luck to her as she tries to get back on track.

What I find more troubling – as someone who covered the news in this town for 40 years – is her apparent view of the city as black versus white.

Her campaign brought up race by suggesting that a white mayor like Tom Richards could not fully understand the needs of poor black folks. Then she said in an internet interview broadcast on radio that a black police officer is better at defusing tense situations involving African Americans. When you need a cop, does race really matter?

Warren then waged class warfare by criticizing Richards for living in the Browncroft area – never mind that as former chairman of RG&E, he could afford to live in the fanciest house in the fanciest suburb, but chose instead to raise his kids in the city, where his father served as a minister to the poor. And this below-the-belt attack was when Richards' son was gravely ill.

I wish Warren well. But she needs to demonstrate that as mayor, she is also capable of representing the 60 percent of Rochester that is white, Hispanic, and Asian-American – rich and poor.

RAY LEVATO, IRONDEQUOIT

(Levato is a retired Channel 10 newscaster.)

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