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Urban Planning and Design; Two Exciting Events

Peter J. Park, Director of Planning, Denver

On January 31, Rochester Regional Community Design Center will present 'Transformation: Don't be Afraid of It,' a talk by Peter Park, planning director for Denver.On Tuesday, January 31, the Rochester Regional Community Design Center external link will present “Transformation: Don’t be Afraid of It,” a talk by Peter Park, planning director for Denver. Peter Park will take us through a genesis of the transformative process in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1990’s where he was a key player in planning and implementing the creation of the River Walk, a downtown revitalization project , for more than a decade.

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Candidates Square Off on Rochester’s Future

A Blueprint for Rochester's Future: A Community

Mayoral hopefuls Thomas Richards (Democrat), Alex White (Green Party), and William A. Johnson Jr. (Independence and Working Families)
Over 200 people turned out and submitted questions ranging from planning to poverty.

This past Tuesday evening Reconnect Rochester co-sponsored a Mayoral forum on issues related to land use, neighborhood urban planning, transportation, development and revitalization. Bill Johnson, Tom Richards, and Alex White went toe to toe and Rachel Barnhart (WHAM 13 News) moderated.

In all, well over 200 people turned out and submitted questions ranging from planning to poverty. The event was the first extended, in-depth forum of Rochester’s mayoral campaign and was covered by several local news outlets including YNN, WROC, and the D&C.

Now, in the famous words of sportscaster Warner Wolf, “Let’s go to the video tape!” And let us know what you think of the candidates’ responses in the comments section.

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Mayoral Candidates to Discuss Rochester’s Future

Rochester's race for Mayor is on!

While Rochester searches for its next mayor to take office and begin the arduous task of planning the City’s future, Reconnect Rochester is taking the issues to the candidates and the candidates to the people.

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John Robert Smith in Rochester

*Cross Posted by the Moderate Urban Champion

John Robert SmithMembers of Reconnect Rochester had a unique opportunity Monday afternoon.  We were invited to sit in and participate in a roundtable discussion featuring representation of the Genesee Transportation Council, the Empire State Passengers Association, the Rochester Rail Transit Committee, and the keynote speaker of that evening’s lecture, John Robert Smith.

Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.

Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.

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Reconnecting America: What Rochester Can Learn from John Robert Smith

John Robert Smith, founder of Reconnecting America, will speak at the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10, 2010.Rochester’s dazzling urbanites, development gurus, transit afficionados, preservation honchos, political luminaries, and architectural stewards are all very pleased that the Rochester Regional Community Design Center’s final lecture of the 2009-2010 season brings John Robert Smith to the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10th at 7PM.  This enthuasism will surely spread like wildfire once the community at large understands what a tremendous impact this man has had in the realms of community revitalization and improving housing and mobility choices for citizens in communities with situations similar to Rochester.

The future of this or any community hinges on the following concepts, all of which are likely to be discussed at the speech and reception:
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Rochester’s Case for a Streetcar Line

The following article was published at RochesterSubway.com on 2010/02/16. Two weeks later 6 citizens got together and Reconnect Rocheseter was born.

Photo simulation of a new Rochester streetcar on Main Street.

America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.

There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.

For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.

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