Rochester’s plan for future is ‘evolving’ as public weighs in

Aug 16, 2019

The Freddy-Sue Bridge in downtown Rochester.
Credit James Brown WXXI

The city has ended the public comment period for its first comprehensive plan since Bill Johnson was mayor in the 1990s. 

Since Rochester 2034 was announced in the spring, people have had a lot to say about it. 

Dorainne Kirkmire manages planning for the city. She said four people in her department are cataloging hundreds of comments from city residents.

“We are making several changes to the plan, the plan is absolutely evolving, as a result of the public comments,” said Kirkmire.

One big change could affect parking requirements for businesses. The new requirement would be based on where the business is, what it does and who its customers are.

“What are the multimodal opportunities here, like am I on a bus line, am I providing bicycle parking? If my target audience is millennials, they don’t necessarily need a car,” said Kirkmire.

Larry Marx, the CEO of the nonprofit Children’s Agenda, has plenty of thoughts about the plan.

He applauds the plan’s focus on community schools but wants more emphasis on kids. 

“Children are scattered throughout various other categories in the plan, but to us, it's a glaring, gaping hole in the vision statement and the organization of the comprehensive plan,” said Marx.

Kirkmire said the plan was geared toward the needs of all Rochesterians, but the needs of kids were not left out. 

“I feel like we have more in the plan that was directed toward children than was given credit for,” said Kirkmire.

Kirkmire pointed to plans to make vacant lots into playable areas for kids, playable sidewalks and their upcoming parks master plan, which would have an emphasis on rec centers. 

She added that the city is considering a separate process that would create a youth master plan. 

The proposal will be released Sept. 9. The Planning Board will take further comment from the public and vote on it in October. City Council members have the final say, and it’s expected they’ll decide by November.