Sheppard: Back to the Table on Parcel 5 - Leadership, Not Politics is Needed Now

  • Another example of the lack of leadership
  • Another example of the lack of transparency
  • Another example of lack of community involvement

Days after thousands of Rochestarians crowded Parcel 5 to hear local superstar Danielle Ponder and dance to The Hooligans, Monroe County Legislator and Rochester Mayoral candidate James Sheppard called on Mayor Lovely Warren’s administration to go back to the table on plans for Parcel 5.

“There is still an opportunity to show some leadership and bring this community together on a viable, sustainable and shared future for this key parcel of our center city,” said James Sheppard.  “Instead, we are presented yet again with a secret plan that is politically driven and based in fiction.”

“From Day One, this process has been compromised,” Sheppard said.  “In fact, the chosen developer, a week after being asked to approve a press release to announce his successful bid, found out from a reporter that Mayor Warren had scrapped it to play politics. This project has only gone downhill from there.”

Instead, Mayor Warren’s choice is an unfunded, unplanned and unsupported Performing Arts Center, a project that has been unfunded, unplanned and unsupported in this community for more than 30 years.  As has been demonstrated in the past, the new plan will also benefit a political supporter of the Mayor. 

A leader needs to bring the community together and explain the options and seek buy-in from the stakeholders, not make secret deals and force them on the community.  This Mayor refuses to be transparent in how deals are made in City Hall.

“We still don’t know what this project is, how it will be funded, or what its impact on the city will be,” Sheppard said.  “There have been no detailed plans released, no commitment on funding beyond Mr. Golisano’s generous pledge, and no opportunity for public comment.  This is no way to decide the future of the crown jewel of downtown.”

Here’s what we do know:  the building will have a huge footprint with virtually no open space; it will be of limited value to the majority of Rochesterians who will not be able to afford to see shows there; it will have a huge impact on car and truck traffic and parking in an already dense area; it will be expensive to operate; and it will leave a hole at the Auditorium Theatre site on East Main Street.

Even more troubling:  it is being proposed by the same man who has pushed it unsuccessfully for 30 years.  And the same man who provided the media and public relations consulting for Mayor Warren’s campaign for Mayor in 2013.  In a Sheppard Administration, this deal would be investigated by the Office of Public Integrity.

“This smells like payback to me,” Sheppard said.  “All the more reason to go back to the table.  The process was flawed, the plan undefined, negotiated in secret and the funding questionable.  This is not leadership, this is old fashion backroom politics where the political friends and supporters are taken care of at the expense of the public good.”

A true leader listens to community and creates consensus. In fact, Sheppard said, the recent Jazz Fest concert provided yet another reason to reconsider the current proposal.  “People love Parcel 5 as a community space.  What more proof do we need?  They are literally voting with their feet!”