Riverway pros and cons
The city is embarking on the multi-million-dollar ROC the Riverway project, which includes small undertakings like a skate park to major ones like transforming the Broad Street Bridge into a pedestrian walkway. Readers' online comments included this discussion:
With poverty, extremely low graduation rates, a heroine epidemic, and homeless encampments, these projects are just lipstick on a pig.
I do not understand how anyone could approve spending this kind of money on mostly cosmetic items while people are jobless, hungry, and homeless. If we could all work to resolve the serious problems, Rochester would be an awesome city and not just a city that hides serious problems behind shiny new facades.
Should the city never invest in its future until these social issues are solved? We can debate the merits of each individual idea in this plan, and each respective investment in dollars that they will take, but can we please have that debate in the context of the return on investment we may experience? And by "return" I mean the tangible contribution to the quality of life in our city, and the potential for each investment to contribute to the economic health of the community.
Why must every single proposal for investment in our city be immediately countered with the argument that there are poor people? Is there such little understanding of economics that people actually believe the answer to our ills is to hand out money and "create" jobs out of thin air? Who will create these jobs if there is no reason to live or locate a business in Rochester? Now more than ever before, every business owner, every job-creator makes a conscious decision about where to locate and invest.
Please, Rochester: expand your vision. Dream a little. Take a chance on the belief that a city must grow to survive. An honest dollar spent investing in the beauty and live-ability of our city is returned manifold. Let's focus our efforts on making sure these investments are honestly and transparently made. And then celebrate and enjoy!
Say a family is living paycheck to paycheck with high balances on their credit cards. They can barely keep food on the table and pay the mortgage and other household expenses. Do you recommend that they go even further in debt by spending thousands to improve their quality of life by adding a new porch, lots of landscaping, and a swimming pool?
Why in god's name should a virtually bankrupt city (and state) spend millions on the same sort of window dressing? Not one of these proposed projects is remotely necessary for the maintenance of the city's infrastructure (which has serious problems). Not one of them improves the safety of our city streets.
Not one of them address the issue of homelessness or the failed city school system. Not one has anything remotely resembling an unbiased business case that shows a positive return on the investment. The best that can be said of any of them is that they might make the place look better. To that end, I suggest you read up on the subject of "Potemkin villages."
It's true that Rochester has all sorts of problems to address and challenges to face. It's true that many of these challenges – poverty, heroin, education – are more severe than the need for beautification of the riverfront. I hope we can work on more than one problem at a time.
Can't we make preschool available for all 3-year-olds and create a pleasant pedestrian bridge?
Can't we "reimagine RTS" and create river access for kayaks?
I want better education, transportation, economic development ... and I'd also like nice places to walk, live, and recreate.
Perhaps it is putting lipstick on a pig. On the other hand, as Rupaul might tell you, a little lip gloss and a pair of killer heels can make a world of difference.
Parcel 5's fate
Do not fill in the "prominent gravel pit," as you call it. The most telling reason was stated on TV recently.
A man was being interviewed as to how he liked the recent big outdoor gathering at Midtown's spot, and he said he loved it, the people he came with loved it, and what he really enjoyed the most was "running into people he had not seen in years."
I rest my case.