Q. “Why does a piece of land in the center of Rochester matter anyway? Don’t we have bigger issues? What about jobs?”
A. It’s about creating an environment for growth and community — not a band-aid or a “savior” project, but rather setting our city up for long term growth and success. An environment for growth and community is a way to attract businesses, commerce and residents. It’s about changing the perception of downtown and creating more opportunities for the people of this community to interact. It’s about listening to the people of this city and creating something for all to enjoy, instead of something only a select group enjoys for about 160 nights of the year (most likely less). Yes, jobs are super important for our city, but 600 temporary construction jobs are not the answer. The COO of RBTL recently said they expect to create 6 or 7 new jobs with the new theater. 6 or 7. Is that really going to change our city for the better?
Q. “If Parcel 5 is used as a public square, Then what happens to RBTL?”
A. We are not against performing arts and not necessarily against a new theater, but rather, against having a new theater at Parcel 5. The City made Parcel 10 available to RBTL but they wanted Parcel 5 — even though the $200k feasibility study said Parcel 10 was the best space for it. They want Parcel 5 because of the underground parking (this doesn’t sound like creating vibrant streets…) but Parcel 10 can accommodate parking and it has the Civic Center Garage across the street.
But perhaps a bigger concern is what happens to Auditorium Theater if RBTL builds a new theater. We don’t want to see that beautiful theater empty. Yes it needs work, but abandoning it or using it for 20–30 shows/graduations a year is a mistake. With so many businesses nearby (Village Gate) and the fact that it is in the Neighborhood of the Arts, why not work to improve the theater and the connectivity in that neighborhood? The East Main Arts and Market Initiative put out by the City would do just that! This plan needs to be back on the table and be something the city pushes to implement in the upcoming year. Read it. You’ll agree. It’s some of the best work that has come out of City Hall in recent years. It could really help that area and improve connectivity.
Q. “Ok, but what can I do?”
A. Your voice matters. Especially if you’re a city resident. You can email/call/write the mayor and city council members. The vote on the sale of Parcel 5 won’t happen until winter, so there’s still a lot up in the air. The local election in the fall will be really important in deciding what happens. Continue to ask questions of government officials and candidates — their job is/will be to best represent our collective interests, and if you don’t believe a theater at Parcel 5 is in our best interests, let them know.
Write to them. Call them. Email them. Here’s how:
City Council: http://www.cityofrochester.gov/article.aspx?id=8589935617
Mayor’s office: http://www.cityofrochester.gov/smt/
Other things you can do: Vote in the primary and election this fall. Share what you want to see at Parcel 5 on social media — and use the hashtag #OurParcel5. Share your ideas. Talk with others about it. And lastly, come to the next Speak to City Council (see details here). If you want to speak, call (585) 428–7421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up — or you can sign up at the public forum.
Q. “For Parcel 5, what if we try to create a place where city residents want to be first and then see if employers, tourists and businesses will want to be where those people want to be?”
A. Great Question! That’s not a far-fetched idea at all. Other cities similar to us have done this and it’s actually worked.
The Re-Emergence of the Public Square: https://www.pps.org/reference/the-re-emergence-of-the-public-square/
The Big Urban Mistake: Building for Tourism vs. Livability: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/5/24/the-big-urban-mistake-building-for-tourism-vs-livability
Any further questions? Contact us.