US Mayor Article

City Plan Attracts Regional Involvement

July 17, 2000


On Saturday June 3, Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. hosted an open house for residents of the entire metropolitan area. He invited them to assist in the renaissance of a city. Hundreds of city dwellers and suburbanites responded by volunteering to help implement the city's new comprehensive master plan, Rochester 2010: The Renaissance Plan.

The new master plan was crafted over a three-year period through a grassroots neighborhood-based process that engaged city and metro citizens at over 100 public forums. The plan lays out a vision of the dynamic region Greater Rochester will become by the year 2010, if all residents work together. It is organized around eleven themed campaigns: (1) Involved Citizens; (2) Educational Excellence; (3) Health, Safety and Responsibility; (4) Environmental Stewardship; (5) Regional Partnerships; (6) Economic Vitality; (7) Quality Service; (8) Tourism Destination; (9) Healthy Urban Neighborhoods; (10) Center City; and, (11) Arts and Culture.

Essentially, the plan is a realistic strategy to maximize the city's assets as regional assets. Although the City of Rochester has statutory authority to affect change only within its inelastic boundaries, the plan recognizes that for many of the factors which influence the city's fate political borders have no relevance. At the same time, the Renaissance Plan highlights the importance of a prosperous city to the well-being of those who live outside the city limits.

The Renaissance Plan was adopted by Rochester City Council in April 1999. During the following year, the city's general budget process, capital improvement plan, and CDBG allocations were aligned with the goals of the plan. Broad-based committees were organized around each of the eleven campaigns to translate the plan's vision into concrete action steps for area residents.

A regional stewardship council will guide implementation of the plan and help build the community partnerships essential to its success.

The Renaissance Plan has captured the imaginations and resources of regional stakeholders. For example, Rochester's waterfronts on Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and the Erie Canal are enjoying the influx of hundreds of millions of investment dollars in conformance with the plan. Eastman Kodak Company recently kicked off a new fund to support neighborhood-based projects with a $500,000 contribution. And, as a prelude to the June 3 volunteer event, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper arranged for a special eight-page full-color supplement outlining the plan in all 500,000 copies of its May 28 edition distributed throughout the region.

The June 3 "town meeting" at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center engaged the region's residents at the grassroots level. After hearing speakers discuss the potential impact of achieving the plan's objectives from enhancing lifestyles on a city block to strengthening the regional economy participants visited booths to get more information on the plan and to sign up for one or more projects that matched their interests. As Mayor Johnson noted, "The Renaissance Plan is igniting residents' desire to participate. It is awakening forces in the community that have not been engaged before."

For more information about Rochester 2010: The Renaissance Plan, visit the City of Rochester's web site at www.ci.rochester.ny.us or call Jacqueline Whitfield, Director of Special Projects, at (716) 428-7192.

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