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Phase 1 of the West River Wall Improvement Project in Corn Hill has been completed

West River Wall project
City of Rochester
Phase 1 of the West River Wall Improvement Project at North Star Commons was celebrated on Wednesday, 7/6/22 in Rochester.

Local and state officials gathered with project partners on the banks of the Genesee River in Corn Hill Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a portion of the ROC the Riverway revitalization program.

The completion of Phase 1 of the public plaza comes just in time for the Corn Hill Festival, which returns this weekend after a two-year hiatus.

The West River Wall was originally built in 1918 as part of the Barge Canal System to protect the surrounding area from flooding.

In 2020, the city collaborated with the state and local groups to restore flood protection for Corn Hill by rebuilding the wall and enhancing the waterfront. Those improvements include increased visibility and accessibility to the waterfront for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Jeff Holdsworth with the Corn Hill Neighborhood Association said that people who visit the festival will be able to enjoy a beautiful new waterfront.

`Many people in the region haven't seen it,” said Holdsworth. “But they'll have a chance to see this inspiring new waterfront. It has truly changed this place and made a difference for the future.”

The state provided more than $4 million for the $8.4 million project. The New York State Canal Corporation, Corn Hill Neighborhood Association and RG&E also provided support.

Mayor Malik Evans says the city of Rochester is being transformed block by block, business by business, and riverbank by riverbank.

``This confirms that we're heading in the right direction, voyaging toward a prosperous future that our children can be proud of,” said Evans.

The new public plaza is named after the anti-slavery newspaper that Frederick Douglass published in that Corn Hill neighborhood, in the basement of the AME Zion Church.

And it’s also named for the educators who were nicknamed “north stars” at the Southern Student Teachers Program, developed in the 1960s and 70s to help city school students.

Alex Crichton is host of All Things Considered on WXXI-AM 1370. Alex delivers local news, weather and traffic reports beginning at 4 p.m. each weekday.