BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN
Downtown is a unique location that differs not only from the rest of Rochester’s neighborhoods, but also from the downtown of 10 years ago. As a result, it may be time to reinvent the Downtown Enhancement District, city officials say.
For a fee, property owners within the district benefit from enhanced services including frequent landscaping, litter and graffiti removal, and bench repair. The district is centered on Main Street, with the north-south boundaries at Church and Broad streets, and the east-west boundaries at Chestnut Street and Plymouth Avenue.
City Hall and the Rochester Downtown Development Committee have formed a group to study expansion of the district. Two big questions: where the new boundaries would be and what services would be offered.
“I have encouraged them to start small and grow,” says Mayor Tom Richards, “so we can prove to people the value of it and work out the kinks.”
Richards says property owners won’t be charged extra for services they should receive as a matter of course.
“It’s one thing to have an enhancement because there’s something unique about your area or you’re imposing a unique burden,” he says. “It’s another thing to say, ‘somebody gets a cop and somebody doesn’t.’”
Another question is whether or not to continue the Red Shirts program, Richards says. The Red Shirts, made up of retired and off-duty police officers, provide an extra layer of public safety downtown. But with a new police substation in the Sibley Building, the Red Shirts may no longer be necessary, Richards says.
A proposal for a new district could be ready by the end of summer, he says. Any plan would need the approval of City Council and a majority of property owners within the proposed district.