Work has begun on La Marketa, the Latin-themed international plaza on North Clinton Avenue near Clifford Avenue. Neighbors like Wladimir Torres are cautiously optimistic about the project’s potential.
The 29-year-old Torres has lived around North Clinton Avenue all his life. He called the idea of La Marketa “beautiful” and “what kids need.” He said investments in the area could make a difference, but money alone can’t improve the neighborhood. Torres said more police presence is needed to make it a success. If not, Torres warned that things could get started on the wrong foot.
“Precautions better be taken if bad energy comes this way. That’s what they got patrolers for, they better patrol it,” said Torres. “Bad energy. Bad vibes. Just fights and we don’t need that. We need peace and quiet.”
The $2 million project is funded by city, state and federal funds and is expected to be operational this fall. The event space and pop-up kiosks like those at the Rochester Public Market will operate in one of Rochester’s poorest and most crime-riddled neighborhoods. The plan also includes a bandstand, greenspace and walkways.
Anthony Ortiz is a barber at “In the Cut” on North Clinton Avenue. He likes the idea of more food options in the neighborhood, but like Torres, he said more patrols are necessary.
“I think it’s a great idea to build, but first you have to eliminate the problems (that are) around because me personally, I won’t let my grandma go up there by herself if she is going to shop,” said Ortiz. "The Public Market is far for some of us. Some of us walk there or get a ride, you know how things are. And it would be nice, but it would be nice but in a good atmosphere, with no worries in the area.”
Statement from Rochester Police Department Investigator Francis Camp:
"As with any other new project, we are happy to be a part of it and partner with the neighborhood.We do intend to engage more actively in that area both in assigned details and a patrol car as well. I must be clear that like in any other way that we deploy our resources, it may not be permanent, but we feel that this will create a strong foothold and give us the opportunity to assess the needs going forward."
The project’s funding includes $1.3 million from the Rochester Economic Development Corp., $426,700 from the Rochester Urban Renewal Agency, a $487,800 Community Development Block Grant and a $400,000 grant from Empire State Development.
Grant and loan options are available to those who want to be vendors. The city is holding a series of community conversations on La Marketa. One was held on Wednesday evening.
Several other sessions have been scheduled on the following dates:
6-8 p.m. Feb. 24: Salvation Army, 915 N. Clinton Ave.
6-8 p.m. March 18: Burgos Tax/PACTAC Office, 821 N. Clinton Ave.
6-8 p.m. April 20: Northeast Neighborhood Service Center, 500 Norton St.
6-8 p.m. May 27: Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School, 27 Zimbrich St.