Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren
An eleventh-hour deal yesterday saved Mayor Lovely Warren’s legislation to study a new downtown performing arts center. The fate of the legislation was up in the air until almost the last minute due to confusion over who would fund the study and questions about the study itself.
City Council voted 8-1 last night to approve the legislation, over the objections of Council member Carolee Conklin. Conklin said that the mayor’s proposal makes it seem like the administration has already decided that the city would get a new downtown performing arts center, and that the study is more about “where” and not “if.”
“That’s not what I was told the study would be,” she said.
Conklin also questioned the mayor’s assertion that RBTL is not the driving force behind the study. If that’s true, she said, why did RBTL step up yesterday with money to keep the study alive?
Warren said that Conklin’s claims are inaccurate. The study will show whether a performing arts center could be feasible, she said, and as part of Rochester’s arts scene, RBTL has an interest in the scene’s future.
Questions about the affordability of the project, the subsidies a new performing arts center might require, and the new facility’s impact on existing arts organization nearly sank the legislation. Council members definitely didn’t want to pay more than the $30,000 they had already approved earlier this year for the study. (The issue has been studied before, and some Council members say another study isn’t necessary.)
A funding package consisting of the city money; $100,000 from the state; $30,000 from the county pending approval of the County Legislature; $25,500 from RBTL; and another $25,665 from RBTL pending approval of the organization’s board, was cobbled together yesterday, which enabled the Council vote.
The study should be complete in three months.