Governor Andrew Cuomo went to Onondaga County on Wednesday to award $100 million in state money for waterfront development, which includes a $50 million performing arts center.
As Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany and even Utica get millions of dollars from the state, Rochester doesn’t even get a mention in the State of the State Address.
As Greater Rochester Enterprise’s Mark Peterson said, “I don’t know what’s going on.”
Could it be that the governor is not happy with his number two, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who secretly applied to the top job at Rochester Business Alliance? Could it be our local elected officials are doing a poor job? What is it?
Keep in mind Rochester gets less state aid per capita that its Upstate counterparts. It’s also forced to give the City School District $119 million a year, more than Syracuse and Buffalo give their schools.
Let’s talk about a theater.
Syracuse gets money for a theater while our last two mayors haven’t been interested in such a project. “If the Rochester Broadway Theater League can raise money first, then we’ll help,” said Duffy and Tom Richards. That kind of attitude won’t get anything built. In order to build something with public and private dollars, you have to have an elected official as a champion. Mayor Lovely Warren has promised to be that champion for a performing arts center at Midtown. If she wants a theater downtown, she’ll get her state money for a theater downtown. RBTL’s current partner, Scott Congel at Medley Centre, does not have anyone fighting for him in Albany.
I like the idea of a downtown Rochester theater a lot better than the taxpayer-backed sports stadium projects for the Bills and SU. A theater would require less public money. Theater patrons spend substantial money in the community, at hotels and restaurants. The arts create a vibrancy in a community that sporting events do not.
Whatever dream project Rochester decides it wants, it seems now is the time to go after it, while Cuomo is in a generous mood.
Assuming he’s not mad at us.