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Snap Poll: State of the city is ‘fair,’ majority say

More than half of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say the city of Rochester is in “fair” condition, and a plurality says the state of the city is unchanged compared with two years ago.

A third of respondents say the current state of the city is poor.

Of the 27 percent of respondents who say they reside in the city or pay city property taxes, attitudes were slightly more upbeat, with 21 percent reporting conditions are good, compared with 15 percent of the respondents as a whole. And fewer respondents—28 percent—said the state of the city is poor.

In her recent State of the City address, her second since taking office in January 2015, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said: “Our future is as bright as our past. … (Rochester is) a great city that in some ways lost its footing, but has once again regained its stride.”

The speech was delivered at the Genesee Brewery where, Warren noted, 250 jobs have been added and $70 million has been invested in the facility. She also pointed to the promise of hundreds of photonics jobs at Eastman Business Park and the numerous real estate projects underway downtown by Morgan Management LLC, Gallina Development Corp., Buckingham Properties and other developers. And Warren highlighted completion of the new marina in Charlotte and neighborhood revitalization efforts.

While noting that city crimes rates—especially for serious offenses—are at historic lows, the mayor said a “culture of violence” still plagues some parts of the city. She also talked about the ongoing fight against poverty and her strategy to improve educational opportunities and outcomes.

In a May 2013 RBJ Snap Poll on the state of the city, the results were: excellent, 2 percent; good, 37 percent; fair, 44 percent; and poor, 17 percent.

In this week’s poll, 41 percent of respondents said the state of the city compared with two years ago is unchanged. Thirty percent said it is worse, and 28 percent said conditions are better.

Nearly 650 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted April 25 and 26.

Overall, what is the state of the city of Rochester today?
Excellent: 0%
Good: 15%
Fair: 52%
Poor: 33%

In general, how does the state of the city of Rochester today compare with two years ago?
Better: 28%
Unchanged: 41%
Worse: 30%

Do you currently reside in the city of Rochester or pay city property taxes (as a city residential and/or commercial property owner)?
Yes  27%  No  73%

COMMENTS:
We need to lower the crime rate, lower taxes on businesses, attract larger business to come back to Rochester so we can provide more jobs to our citizens and thereby increase opportunities and lower the poverty level.
—John Bartolotto

It is the best of times and the worst of times. The rich are looking for new opportunities for gentrification development, but this does little to help the city’s problem. The poor have lost the most in the job cuts. This has magnified the problems that have been kept buried for decades. Paying $15 for fast food is not the help we need. The city needs new ideas, new ways to put people to work in long-term jobs by growing small businesses. High technology is great, but low-technology jobs even more. Hope for people by changing the justice system to help keep minor offenders from escalating to major criminals. I see possibilities, but I feel we are at a crossroads of coming together or falling into a class war that will rip this city and more apart. I hope we all choose wisely.
—Daniel Herpst, Rochester

The commercial improvements are nice, but poverty and the deplorable schools must be addressed in a more forthright manner before I would say the city leaders are doing a good job.
—Al Schnucker

The issues that face Rochester are not all that different from other American cities, and the solutions are those that are working elsewhere. Hopefully, we will embrace the basic concepts of walkability, mobility, and better land use that characterize New Urbanism. We created our problems. We can solve them, too.
—Carlos Mercado

While not a resident of the city, I volunteer at Lifespan and visit city homes in that capacity regularly. Homes are in need of serious repairs—gutters, roofs, plumbing, interior ceilings, stairs, and so forth. The folks are either renting, or scraping by on minimum incomes. I would say that the economic state of Rochester is shamefully worse than it was two years ago. All of this while, in the same capacity, I visit suburban homes asking for charity work to be done in $200,000 to $300,000 homes, and yet the Republican-dominated towns are absolutely positive that city residents are “gaming” the system at their expense.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

I no longer live in Rochester, but I have never lost interest in it. In my last visit home at Christmas, I was astounded at the transformation I saw in both downtown and Charlotte. The building, the renovations, the bright streetscapes all seem to be infused with a sense of direction and optimism with facts on the ground to back them up.
—Michael Patella, Saint John’s University

I used to have an office downtown; it was a vibrant and great place. It has deteriorated beyond belief—nothing but poverty and crime. For many years, we had season tickets for the RBTL; now my wife and I never go downtown anymore. We visit other vibrant cities instead.
—Rick Corey, Penfield

4/29/2016 (c) 2016 Explore Greater Rochester; Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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