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In Rochester, we often see the conflict between the dreamers and the realists.

We rarely see the dreamers win out. The fast ferry was their biggest triumph and we know how that turned out. Now we have a practical mayor who doesn’t seem too fond of the Big Idea.

But there are some Big Ideas out there. The concepts are either wacky or brilliant, depending on your vision for Rochester.

Here are the top 5 Big (Crazy?) Ideas:

1. Rewatering the Canal – Erie Canal restoration advocates want to rewater the old aqueduct downtown, essentially flooding Broad St. They envision recreational boats in summer and ice skating in winter, as well as real estate development along the new waterfront.

2. Doing Something with the Subway – This idea is in conflict with rewatering the canal, as it would use the same infrastructure. The subway was built in the old canal bed, so one could argue the canal was there first! Ideas for the subway tunnel, some of which has been filled in, include parking and bringing back light rail.

3. Garden Aerial – This would transform the Pont de Rennes Bridge at High Falls into a “floating garden.” There would be an additional pedestrian bridge built close to the falls and a winter garden on the side of the brewery.

4. Performing Arts Center – The Rochester Broadway Theatre League has long wanted new digs, saying the Auditorium isn’t adequate. The group hasn’t raised funds, however, and has no politician advocating for grants. RBTL chose Midtown Plaza for a theater site, but City Hall is lukewarm, at best, to the idea.

5. Filling in the Inner Loop – This one has the most support from City Hall to actually get done. But there’s still a funding gap. The sunken expressway is underused and a barrier to development. Filling it in would create usable land and fill in gaps between downtown neighborhoods.

What’s your Big Idea?

Links of the Day:

– Buffalo is seeing a lot of conflict between cyclists and drivers who have to share the road.

– Governor Cuomo’s administration has a serious reputation for secrecy.

Newark, New Jersey’s mayor slammed the war on drugs.

– A mom is arrested for allowing kids, ages 7 and 11, walk alone to get pizza a half mile away.

Cool read about an ex-slave’s letter to his former master.

9 Responses to 5 Big (Crazy?) Ideas for Rochester

  1. These are all “cool”… But I wonder if the most effective answer is really the simple one… I know it’s chicken and egg, but if more people lived in Downtown Rochester, they would be demanding many of these projects anyway – and there would be votes and tax revenue behind these demands… Seems like we need more residential building – like what’s happen in the East End and Plymouth Ave… Then we will really see change.

  2. Here is my big idea:

    One of my long-time dreams has been to upgrade the status of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra to a ‘Class A’ ensemble. Currently, this designation is commonly given to orchestras in large cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, etc. However, in terms of quality, I would place the RPO in the same league with orchestras from larger cities. The RPO’s current designation as a ‘Class B’ orchestra is only because we have a mid-sized city, and has nothing to do with the quality of the orchestra.

    My feeling is that if the RPO were to receive a ‘Class A’ designation, music lovers would be more inclined to come to Rochester to hear our excellent orchestra, and at the same time, sample all that our city has to offer in terms of tourist attractions and restaurants.

  3. My big idea is to bomb Manhattan Square “Park” and turn it into a real park. Then, maybe, we cn have a real Party in the Park and not a Party in the Park(ing Lot).

  4. July 17, 2012 at 11:06 am Orielly responds:

    Low speed rail .. from charlotte to downtown following the river gorge. Stops at Frontier and the Brewery the train station.
    Then on to main down main st and out east ave to Fisher and Naz villages of Pittsford and Fairport.
    Then another “spur” to the west side connecting RIT / UR and The airport.
    Allows all the college students to go all around ROCH cheap and easy. Promotes the east end, makes it easy for the park ave crowd to go to the east end. Plus it develops Charlotte for a year around destination. You could see a hotel opening there in a few years.
    It builds a reason to develop all along it vs trying to tax subsidize the development. Needs heavy security on board… no 70 yr old bus monitors. And can’t be free … maybe a few days a year but tickets must be 2 bucks or more.

  5. July 17, 2012 at 11:10 am Peking Humonculous responds:

    I am fond of the floating garden/walkway ideas for High Falls and also the pedestrian bridge/park on the strip of land next to Dinosaur BBQ. These are small ideas that don’t require another Mayor Richards Tax Break Giveway (it’s Huuuuuuuuu-jah!), improve existing city lands near known attractions (Genesee River, High Falls, Dino BBQ), and won’t require a lot of money or time. We need to do SOMETHING with that subway tunnel… but I can’t say what. I understand the arguments for and against both the aqueduct and light rail. But honestly, the biggest improvement we could undertake right now is getting that crater where Midtown Mall used to be developed into something better than an eyesore.

  6. My big idea is for someone to buy the Oakland A’s or Tampa Bay Rays and move them here. Buffalo and Syracuse both rely on us for their teams but we have nothing that brings the entire region together. We’re set for fall and winter but there is no major league sports attraction for the spring and summer. Renovate or rebuild Frontier Field to about 35-40,000 and give the city and the upstate region a team to bring everybody together. Dan Mason would have to stay in charge of the business end of the team given the great job he has done marketing and promoting a bad minor league team.

  7. Pingback: Slow Going for Skatepark » The Rochesterian

  8. Filling in the Inner Loop is neither “big” nor “crazy.” It is necessary. Maintaining this sunken moat of a highway, at this point, would constitute throwing taxpayer money into a hole. Spending money to maintain the Inner Loop as-is fetches zero ROI. Filling it in creates new develop-able land that will, hopefully, soon join the tax rolls since it sits in the middle of one of the city’s most vibrant districts. A no-brainer, this.

    A big, crazy idea would be to create some kind of light rail that connects Charlotte to downtown Rochester (and perhaps beyond). Such a thing would have made the fast ferry feasible. Lake Avenue is certainly wide enough.

    A commuter line along Monroe Ave. from Pittsford into downtown would be nice, too.

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