I attended the second DMC public forum on September 11 and I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the options and projects the DMC planners have proposed in concept. While it is easy as a lifelong resident of Rochester to be excited about some of the proposals, I continue to voice my concerns about making sure the plan is properly funded both initially and through each project’s life cycle.
Transportation is critical to the future of Rochester. The accessibility of downtown for work, recreation, and housing is an ongoing challenge that must be carefully evaluated. The most appealing proposal I’ve seen so far that was presented in concept is the multi-modal ‘Transit Terrace.’ The location identified north of Central Park along Civic Center Drive appears to be well-connected and would likely enhance options for accessing downtown.
While the current conceptual proposal looks like a urban park and ride, Transit Terrace is described as an arrival spot which helps users transition to other forms of transportation and then explore downtown. It would also help efforts to revitalize Central Park, one of our most under utilized green spaces in downtown, as well as encourage continued revitalization in the surrounding areas.
The Transit Terrace could also be a key component in our work to solve the ongoing difficulty for downtown employees’ daily commutes. The DMC plan is attempting to create jobs that would require an additional 30,000 parking spaces. That level of demand is more than can reasonably be met through build out of traditional parking facilities, so alternative methods for moving people in and out of downtown must be explored.
I can see the Transit Terrace serving as a common hub for daily commuters and visitors. The ability to circulate through downtown is critical to the success of the hub. I think that a five or six-block walk in the middle of February might deter some visitors, so I’m going to continue watching the evolution of this concept for more clarity on how the circulation will work before plans are in place.
The feedback I’ve received from my neighbors throughout Ward 3 is that there is a lot of concern about the cost of this new public infrastructure. While the project may be paid for up-front through the DMC funding, the infrastructure is then turned over to City ownership to maintain and someday - most likely - repair or replace. I asked a question during the Q&A about the life-cycle maintenance and operation costs for the city. The planners shared a few of their objectives, but it feels like the full details are still a ways off. Project planners assured us that additional information is going to be available and I look forward to giving it a thorough review.
I left the second DMC public meeting excited about several components of the project. While we still have a ways to go to make sure the projects represent the best opportunities for the community, I think the plan has come a long way. Currently, I think the Transit Terrace looks like a concept that would make a lasting positive impact on Rochester, but I want to be sure that any new infrastructure can be funded through its life-cycle by acting as a platform for new and continued economic development. I’m looking forward to seeing the plan after one more iteration of polish, and I invite you to attend future DMC sessions with me.