Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nail in the Coffin

Press reports suggest City Council tonight will approve the Mortimer Street bus terminal proposed by the Transit Authority.

Renaissance Square offered the commendatory advantage of cloaking a bus terminal within a performing arts center and a college campus.   These comprised the sugar-coating for an otherwise unappetizing pill.

Wishful thinking doesn't trump human behavior.   Like it or not, to the people the City wants to be attracting downtown, to spend money in restaurants, shops and places of entertainment, and to get nabbed by red light cameras, a bus station is something those people want to stay away from.   It may be unfair, but it's the reality.

Bring in a bus station and you devalue the immediate area and blight it.

City News opines, "... the large groups of unruly young people who've been congregating on Main Street haven't helped things.  The presumption is that they've either come downtown by bus or are deliberately gathering at bus transfer points - and that they'll simply move to Mortimer Street if there's a bus station there."

Echoing City News, the Democrat and Chronicle says:   "The presence of buses idling, coupled with riders milling about, is a hindrance to creating an inviting Main Street of specialty shops and businesses."

If these are problems, then the newspapers, by their own terms, merely seek to relocate the problem to a different venue.   To a venue where, as City News points out, significant development already is underway, in the form of the redevelopment of the Warner Building, the Michaels Stern Building and the Cox Building.   These are residential projects, one of them high-end.   A bus station will nip that in the bud.   Perhaps even more damaging, it will tell potential downtown investors: "Make an investment here and we'll put in something next door to kill it."

If "riders milling about" and "groups of unruly young people" are a problem on Main Street, then site the venue for transferring buses to a place where it won't harm actual or potential development.   Yet with a whole City to choose from, the Transit Authority and now, perhaps, City Council, want to put the bus terminal where it can kill off development that's actually occurring.

If City Council tonight accedes to the Transit Authority's request, it will just be driving another nail into the coffin of downtown Rochester.


Anonymous said...

The whole point of the bus station was to get the "kids" off Main Street, and everyone seems to agree with that goal including downtown property owners, RDDC etc. Even Bill Johnson and City Council signed off on the original concept. The idea behind RenSq was to leverage the federal money to build the bus station to also build something the rest of the community might find useful -- hence the MCC campus and the performing arts center. Why Duffy and the current City Council killed that idea is one of the Great Mysteries people will be talking about for a long time. Now they are back to approving just a bus station, which was the least popular of the 3 parts of RenSq. Only in Rochester's upside down political world would they so badly fumble the ball and mess up the one chance they had to improve and entire blighted, decayed block. And btw where are all those "developers" like Baum who said they opposed RenSq because it was interfering with their grand development plans? No one has heard from him lately. That all looks like a fraud. Once again the City's downtown loses to the petty, self-destructive politics that typifies City Hall.

Anonymous said...

Maggie has been great at being loyal to Mark Aesch...it is time for him to do the same in return and move the bus station somewhere else. It is sad to say...but after Ren Sq died, Louise Slaughter's idea of a inter model facility made sense!

Anonymous said...

You can't fight "City Hall" and why should you have to? We are all in this city together, are we not? How can anyone who truly cares about the entire city and it's dwellers of all walks of life not sit back and see that the transit center is a vital addition to our city. There is intelligence, there is cunning, there is smart, and then there is wise. A wise person would see that the issues surrounding the transfer station have huge long term implications for the city and it's people, a cunning person would see the money and short term political gain and run with it, something accomplished for our resume perhaps? Listen, sit back and listen, respond...don't react...the money will be there if we work together and get this right. If we do not, a fifty million dollar mistake is looming and those who approve this will be long gone, but their children and grandchildren will have to live with it and remember this crossroad and ask "What were they thinking?" Let's ask ourselves, "What would a wise person do?" Let's just see where this transit center would best suit our city shall we?

Anonymous said...

Let's really think about this!!! Anyone in their right mind would be for investment that benefits the greater good. THE OPPOSITION is merely a result of the fact that developments such as the Warner Building were completely disregarded in the planning process. The original plan had green spaces and park benches with the station below grade. This would have made the surrounding area thrive with development. Why? Because the ONLY thing that has proven to revitalize cities like Rochester is housing in the central district. The Warner building has high end lofts that won't be so high end when buses begin to rumble by the windows of the building with diesel exhaust and noise billowing day in and out!!! Millions of dollars was spent on planning. A world recognized architect was brought in and a beautiful plan was created that addressed the environmental impact on buildings that contain HOUSING!!! Now they say we don't have the money and the result is a lesser EVIL...

Anonymous said...

Another nail - Duffy is eliminating all RPD officers from Frontier Field and the War Memorial. Thats a great way to get suburbanites to come downtown!!!

Anonymous said...

Louise Slaughter's obsession with trains is getting weird. The idea that a train running 20 mph faster is going to save our region's economy is, to be blunt, idiotic. The Amtrak service to Rochester is barely used and no amount of rehabbing the train station is going to help -- the problem is Amtrak that cannot figure out how to run a railroad. As for putting the bus and train stations together, sorry but it makes no sense. As for the bus station in downtown, you've got to do something to get Main Street cleaned up before suburban office workers feel comfortable walking in downtown Rochester, and if this is what it takes then go for it.

Anonymous said...

Is this something personal between you and Mr. Aesch?

Lucy said...

Anonymous 5/15:
If you're asking the other commenters, we don't know. If you're asking the contributors to this blog, none of us has ever met him. This posting is about a policy question about the right location for a bus terminal.

Vote 4 Harry said...

It is a shame this gutless, ignorant city council and mayor, with the exception of Council Member Conklin, who refused to do their homework on this critical issue by attending John Robert Smith’s lecture, or any other serious inquiry into alternatives or even to be aware of President Obama’s “Livability Initiative,” arrived at this point. To think that Adam, Matt or Dana will change their minds in the next 3 weeks, I believe is foolish and na├»ve. When I asked Adam after the meeting, “Why?” all he could do is shrug his shoulders.

I wonder why some people still think we have the “power to influence this decision.”? At last Tuesday’s meeting, not one person spoke out in favor of this disaster. They rarely do going back to ren square.

Why will city council not change their mind by June? Follow the money. Remember, the Building Trades union wants to build this bus barn. They make substantial campaign contributions to Mayor Duffy and city council members. They would build the bus barn in the middle of Main Street if they were asked to do so.

Anthony DiMarzo, developer of the Warner Building next door to the proposed bus barn, who has the most invested in this decision to date, told me that these “members who led you to believe there is still hope they will change their minds”, Tony said, “They are blowing smoke.” It will not happen. This is a done deal as far a Duffy & city council are concerned. I believe the next step for Mr. DiMarzo is court.

Our campaign has figured out what we believe is the best way to stop Mortimer bus barn and we are working in that direction.

As Council Member Conklin said:

“I do not support the proposed transit center on Mortimer St. for the following reasons:

“We’ll lose $52 million if we don’t pass Mortimer St.” I don’t believe, with the recent emphasis of the federal government on rail service and inter-modal services, that if RGRTA, the Mayor, City Council and our Federal representatives went to the FTA and requested that the monies be diverted to an inter-modal center we would lose any of the S2 million.”

I urge all of you to join us at the California Brew Haus next Saturday, May 22 for our party/fundraiser, or, please email or tel me. We can discuss our active plans to bring an inter-modal transit to Rochester.

Read more here…

Harry Davis
Rochester, NY

Anonymous said...

We need to form a Concerned Citizens to Save Mortimer Street Coalition !! Let's stage a protest for, well, pretty much anytime, since no one is ever on Mortimer Street, ever, so we'll have no trouble getting space for our protest. Maybe we can get some bus riders to join us since they all want to continue standing outside in the cold, the snow, the rain, the wind and the sleet while waiting for the bus. Maybe we could also get some senior citizens and people in wheel chairs since they like plowing thru the snow drifts outside to get to their bus and don't want to be inside waiting in January.

The opponents of the bus station are perennial opponents of everything. It's just sickening to see Rochester's tailspin over the past 40 years as downtown has emptied out, crime is rampant, the middle class has fled and every proposal for rebuilding gets killed by the naysayers, cynics and not in my backyard types. Rochester is a dying city. Maybe its too late to save it, but if it is to be saved the first step is to tell the wacko crowd that opposes everything to get lost. As for DeMarco, it was Don Riley that chose that location 10 years ago so for DeMarco to now oppose it when Riley is now a top guy there is just nuts.

Philbrick said...

Anonymous 8:57am,

We're not saying an improved facility for bus riders shouldn't be built, as your comment implies. We're saying that, for the reasons discussed in our posting, it shouldn't be built at the proposed Mortimer Street location.

And it's not a bus station, of all things, that's going to revive downtown. Again for reasons described in the post, a bus station is a neutral factor at best, and a negative if it's prominent. The key to a real revival downtown is continuing to offer attractive residential opportunities -- which is exactly what the developers/investors on Mortimer Street, whose efforts are going to be hurt by close proximity to something as down-market as a bus station, have been doing.

Anonymous said...

Philbrick, this has been debated for what, over 10 years? How many more years would you like to keep talking about it? There is no such thing as a 'good' location for a bus station. No matter where you put it someone will find a reason to complain (as they already have for over a decade). The fact is DeMarco hadn't planned on residential until AFTER the station was sited there, so he's like people who move in next to the airport and then complain about the noise. Enough already. Build the thing and move on.

Vote 4 Harry said...

Here's How You Can Stop the Mortimer Street bus barn



The mortimer street bus barn needs 7 votes at tomorrow's city council meeting at 7pm. There are 9 votes on the city council. We feel we have 1.5 votes as of now, 2pm Monday, June 14. Carolee Conklin will vote nay, we think. Matt Haag is asking questions. A good sign.

We need these city council member to call John Robert Smith in DC. Mr. Smith will tell them that the $52 million for the bus barn will not be lost. He will direct them to Department of Transportation stafff that Mr.Smith works with. These people can stop Mortimer if an elected offical makes the ask! Then we will have from DOT the money needed to do inter-modal at the Amtrak station.

John Robert Smith on transit-oriented development:

So, all of you reading this, we need you to call three council members and ask them to call John Robert Smith in DC at: (cell) 601-527-5040; office: 202-429-6990, ext.205

Here is the work/dayjob/home telephone numbers & email addys of Rochester City Council Members Dana Miller, Adam McFadden, Matt Haag and Carolee Conklin:

Matt Haag: 585-410-1693; 585-428-6058 Matt.Haag@cityofrochester.gov

Dana Miller: 585-341-4390; 585-428-6048: Dana.Miller@cityofrochester.gov

Adam McFadden: 585-341-4401; 585-428-6683 mcfadda@cityofrochester.gov

We need to keep Carolee Conklin warm so we don't lose her vote so please call/email her also:
Carolee Conklin: office tel: 585-428-6711: 585-254-2227: Carolee.Conklin@cityofrochester.gov

Please call them ASAP.

Carolee Conklin on the bus barn: