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Feedback 11/14

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Seek input from the public on Parcel 5

People for Parcel 5, a grassroots group of diverse community leaders, recently conducted an informal, public survey obtaining nearly 700 responses. The survey is posted online at Parcel5Survey.com and was publicized at recent events in Parcel 5, including the Fringe Fest.

Results indicate that 90 percent want grass planted, 96 percent want it available for public use, and 73 percent are willing to wait several years, after further community engagement and dialogue, to determine the long-term outcome for the space.

Now that the Rochester Broadway Theatre League proposal for Parcel 5 is dead, we have time to catch our breath and ensure all voices within the community are heard. Half of the survey respondents live in the city, but I believe everyone with a stake in the city's future – the entire spectrum of social classes and lifestyles – should feel heard. No one should suffer financially or through displacement with the outcome.

Many in my downtown neighborhood and citizens who spoke up at City Council meetings are advocating for open community forums, similar to the ROC the Riverway and Charlotte redevelopment processes. They endorse a public space that harks back to the democratic principles applied by Frederick Law Olmstead when he designed Central Park, as well as our own Highland and Genesee Valley Parks. Open space is available to every citizen to enjoy, regardless of class or ethnicity.

We have seen how centrally located park space in other cities throughout the US has recently been deployed to jump-start further activity and development downtown. Look at Columbus, Grand Rapids and, even our neighbor, Buffalo. With the right private-public partnership, I know Rochesterians are smart enough and love their city enough to make this a stunning success.

Members advocating for public space have formed alliances with community organizations representing the arts, advocates for those vulnerable to gentrification, newer downtown residents, and many more. Our voice has been heard and will continue to be heard. It is imperative that we prevent any adverse consequences from the revitalization of downtown.

We have the right to set the bar high with a thoughtful approach to urban planning that aims for greater economic prosperity for all. I want future generations to look back at us, admiring how we came to together and made the right decision.

RICHARD A. GLASER

Glaser is a resident of the Grove Place neighborhood and is a member of People for Parcel 5.

Rochester's school district needs change

The news of Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams' retirement five months before her contract term ends comes as no surprise to the community, families, or critics of the Rochester school district.

Her short-lived tenure has been marked by conflict, tragedy, and one piece of bad news after another. Everyone, it seems, has let out a collective sigh of relief, not because we are happy that this is Rochester school district's fourth superintendent in five years but because there is a glimpse of hope that the Board of Education and other powers that be might use this clean slate to do things differently from how they have been done.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly yet expecting a different result each time. History and the current state of affairs shows us that the revolving door of over-paid singular leaders is not the type of leadership that our struggling district needs.

The last decade under multiple administrations has brought little positive change, increased budgets, and inconsistency in central office and schools.

The school district needs something different. What that is remains to be seen, but we know another round of interviews to bring in yet another over-paid figurehead is not enough to bring substantive change to the district.

The district needs real substantive change in how it is led, and that change must come from the top down. Business as usual is what has made the district one of the top-failing school districts in the state. Change is needed if we expect the needle to move at all. I'm hopeful. The community is hopeful. But hope and faith alone won't solve the district's problems or eliminate abject poverty. Only real change can do that. 

CALVIN EATON

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