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We should cheer Morgan's plans

I am troubled by your continued editorial opposition to the proposed apartment project at 933 University Avenue ("Preserving Preservation," Urban Journal).

From the start, there's been one legitimate objection to Morgan's development, which is that tearing down a building in the preservation district sets a dangerous precedent. But Morgan's revised plans preserve and restore the original house on the property. Opponents of the project deserve credit for spurring this change, but their remaining objections are the standard "not in my backyard" arguments.

The most absurd claim in your recent editorial is that a three- and four-story building "will look completely out of character on University Avenue." Directly across the street from 933 University is the massive Gleason Works building, which has the largest footprint of any building in southeast Rochester. If the neighborhood can function with a giant industrial plant in its center, it can absorb 100 apartments.

A publication that celebrates city living should cheer when developers have enough confidence in Rochester's future to build a project like this, but apparently your editorial writers would instead prefer yet another empty parking lot.


"Just say no."

This is editor Mary Anna Towler's answer to the Morgan University Avenue building proposal. Shame on you; I've given you more credit for thoughtful analytical thinking.

The proposed site is one of the most uniquely qualified development areas of our city. It's on a major mass transit route. It sits dead center of walkable services – three (!) grocery stores, three entertainment venues, and a full retinue of services. Nearby are seriously under-utilized, low-profile, solidly built buildings, the kind that with a smidge of encouragement become quirky shops and art spaces. In fact, that movement is already underway.

So the conversation should be "what kind of housing possibility do we want on this prime space?" Because ultimately, like it or not, cities thrive and grow with people, not so much with broad lawns.

I am not impressed with the arguments put up by the George Eastman House. I support GEH, but let's get real. They already own the adjacent property (Hutchinson House) on East Avenue, and it's shamefully underused. And don't drag out that old chestnut about parking.

Let's talk about the Preservation District another time, for there is much to discuss and the conversation transcends the current project.

Morgan Management wants to make money. They're standing at the gate of this neighborhood and the neighborhood holds the cards. So what do you want? The usual Rochester reaction – "the status quo" – is too tiresome.


Pride Parade: lessons learned

The jubilant Gay Pride parade on July 20 drew thousands of gay folks and their straight allies, marching in and witnessing one of Rochester's most inclusive, joyous, and uplifting events.

Marching as an ally in a Temple Sinai contingent and seeing the very diverse range of groups – religious and secular – marching in support, I was struck by how far our community and the society has moved on gay rights (despite awareness there is still work to do and that it is an understandably troubling issue for some people). 

The parade's positive energy and underlying appreciation for our common humanity gives hints of what some have called the "Great Turning" from concern only with one's own immediate issues toward creating a society that will in the long term be good for all of us and for the planet.

Are there lessons from this inspiring event and the movement's successes that could be applied to other seemingly intractable issues like racism, economic injustice, and the assault on our planet?

• For one, the theme of pride itself draws people in – gay and straight alike. It's a big "yes" all around to affirm oneself and be affirmed as valued.

• The importance of gaining allies to ones cause was tangible. Allies can be moved by compassion and a sense of justice to cross their comfort zones and act in ways that would not previously have been imagined. Often people change after learning that someone in their family, a friend, or a person they admired, is gay. 

• Foremost in making progress has been the immense courage of those who come out (see City's interview of Tim Mains July 24) and, to a lesser extent, of their allies.

• Music, movement, dance, and fun filled the streets – reminders that our child-like ability to express ourselves and play can still be accessed and is a welcome and necessary part of bringing positive change.

• All ages and races lined the streets. Another "yes" to the joy that comes from the sense of community when wide diversity is present – and noticed.

• The crowds seemed especially appreciative of religious groups. The possibility that religious teachings can be used to unify rather than divide our community and our world, brings hope.

What possibilities there are for shaping a world that heals and supports us and the planet when we give a rousing "yes" to caring and courage, coming from a place of pride, being and gaining allies, including everyone, finding support through spiritual teachings, and making it fun!


East Avenue Preservation District | Rochester preservation districts | Morgan Management | 933 University Avenue | Rochester Preservation Board | Rochester Gay Pride Parade