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With better weather, and despite the lilacs blooming before its start, attendance at this year's Lilac Festival rebounded from last year, when rain forced the event to close for several days. More than one week since the end of the festival, Highland Park still had not been properly cleaned. Pieces of plastic, ticket stubs, broken glass, tire ruts, uncovered electrical outlets, downed tree branches, and cigarette butts, among other debris, could be found in nearly every square foot of park space – a true shame, given the visitors this Memorial Day to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And on June 4, there were still 105 gallons or more of used (I assume) frying oil in plastic containers in Highland Park left over from the Lilac Festival.
My suggestion is that the Lilac Festival aim to become a zero-waste event, that teams of volunteers scan every inch of the festival site immediately afterwards to pick up litter and other debris, and that the festival and park throughout the year provide trash pickup.
This initiative and effort should be repeated during the Big Rib BBQ and Blues Fest in July. In 2011, that festival left behind many long tire ruts, as well as tons of broken glass, zip ties, and other litter that was not picked up until late summer. I avoided walking my dogs in the park for nearly two months until the Parks Department picked up the broken glass.
It should not be the responsibility of Monroe County Parks to clean up Highland Park after public festivities. In fact, according to the special-use event application from County Parks, the Lilac and Big Rib BBQ festivals are responsible for the trash and recycling generated during the events. Yet the special use fees are inadequate, and there are no fines or penalties for leaving the parks worse than festival planners found them.
As the coordinator for a first-year festival last fall, I know that it is possible to return a site to its original state, free of trash and damage, at the end of a festival. It would be nice, in the case of the use of Highland Park, if everyone, even those people who travel to see the lilacs once each year, felt the same way. Furthermore, it would be spectacular to see money raised and set aside for the reconstruction of the Ellwanger and Barry Children's Pavilion, restoration of the John Dunbar Memorial Pavilion in Highland Bowl, maintenance of the park throughout the year, and creation of a team to list Rochester's entire Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park system to the National Register.
Rochesterians can and should do a little better for its first park.
JOEL HELFRICH, ROCHESTER
Helfrich teaches history at Monroe Community College and lives in the South Wedge in the house built by John Dunbar, the horticulturalist who brought the lilacs to Rochester in the late 19th century.
I find it interesting to read that the city is curbing purchases of surveillance cameras ("Camera Concerns," May 16), citing upkeep of the cameras as a major concern while the city continues to install red-light cameras to improve safety at intersections. I would think that the city would be just as concerned with the upkeep of the red-light cameras as they are with surveillance cameras and would recognize the safety benefits of surveillance cameras as they do red-light cameras.
Of course there is a major difference between the two systems: revenue. Red-light cameras are revenue generators while surveillance cameras are not. Perhaps some of the revenue generated from red-light cameras could be used to support surveillance-camera upkeep and improve upon the 25 percent downtime for the 110 surveillance cameras installed that help keep our neighborhoods safe.
MARTIN PETRELLA, ROCHESTER
In his guest commentary on May 30, Marvin McMickle writes: "The United States is not a theocracy under which religious law takes precedence over laws passed by democratically elected legislative bodies.... people need to be sure that their support of or disagreement with a presidential candidate should not stand on a single issue.... they should remember that if they decide to stay home on Election Day because of that one issue, then they are 'throwing the baby out with the bath water.'"
However, beyond both "religious law" and "constitutional law" are self-evident realities of which some of these "laws" are a reflection and upon which some are based.
If I am aware that violence only engenders more violence (today or tomorrow) and I choose to embrace and strive to actualize non-violence, but then vote for a political candidate, presidential or otherwise, who does or does not embrace non-violence yet is responsible for initiating violent actions and/or perpetuating already existing violence, I then am complicit and cooperating with violence.
So, out goes the baby (non-violently, of course)!
Something new and different comes into being.
DOUG HOENER, ROCHESTER
The Urban Journal column on Jeremiah Wright was right on ("Rhetoric Aside, Was Jeremiah Wright Wrong?" May 23). When the early news featured Obama's minister and his shocking statements, my first thoughts were that these articles were written by folks who had not grown up in the black church (and not even in Southern Baptist churches). I fear that most of the Eastern press falls in that category.
It is so easy for us to ignore, or not recognize, the fact that our country does not feel or express itself with one mind. Anyone who has not moved from West to East or South to North may not recognize the differences. I grew up and went to college in Ohio and had many good friends there who seemingly had similar views to mine. Now when I travel through the Midwest, or even exchange e-mails with these friends, I see how different our views have become‚ at least partially‚ shaped by the Eastern press.
Experiences with Rochester friends who attend black churches have also helped me see the different styles of preaching, even here in Rochester. Jeremiah Wright's style is perhaps overly emotional and dramatic for many Rochester readers, but, as you say, the substance of it mirrors the justice described in the Old Testament and was familiar to his congregation.
MARY ANNA GEIB, PITTSFORD