Open Up The Process And Let The Public Ask The Tough Questions

I’d like to thank the members of the Rochester City Council for holding this forum and allowing the citizens of this community their first opportunity to share their opinion about this critical piece of downtown’s future. 

I hope it is not their last opportunity.

This project deserves a full and open hearing, and deserved it from the very beginning.   This RBTL proposal was accepted by Mayor Warren without details, without financing, and without support.  In fact, it was common knowledge that the City was in negotiations with a different developer, who only learned that his proposal was no longer in the running from a newspaper reporter. 

This does not instill faith in the City’s development process, nor the people who lead it.  Even more reason to do everything possible to open up the process and let the public in on the deal.

But instead, very valid questions that have been raised by members of Rochester’s highly respected arts community -- and by so many others – from the appropriateness of the public investment, to the revenue projections, to the size of the building – have been met with defensiveness and deflection.

It is disingenuous at best for a Mayor who purports to lead the “City of the Arts” to shut out and shut down it’s own arts community.

What is the Administration afraid of?  That people might ask questions about how this City will support another public project, when so many others that were supposed to be self-sustaining – the Convention Center, the Blue Cross Arena, Frontier Field and the Soccer Stadium – are not? 

That an organization that sends 60% of its revenues out of the City will now own two major parcels of the Center City when they have had trouble operating one?

That the arguments the RBTL has used to garner support for the project – attracting shows like Hamilton, providing more space for operations, the revenue projections – have time and again proven to be false?

Yes, these are tough questions.  But like them or not, people have the right to ask them.  Just as they have the right to ask about so many other projects that have fallen on deaf ears – like Cobbs Hill Village, the EMMA neighborhood, and the Port. 

After all, this is not the Lovely Warren Performing Arts Center.  Or worse, Lovely Warren’s Fast Ferry.  The same people who paid for that mistake – the citizens of Rochester – have the right to demand that it not happen again.