Rochester has embarked on an impressive effort to redevelop downtown,
create smart growth and rejuvenate the city. Advocates claim that Renaissance 2010, as the
plan is known, will turn Rochester into a world-class cultural, economic and social
Every aspect of the plan takes advantage of existing development to protect and enhance
the community's natural resources. The city has adopted a regional "no net loss"
policy to ensure that open spaces, waterways, parks and urban forests are not threatened
by suburban sprawl.
Development will be focused on the city center through reclamation of brownfields and
other previously developed areas. The great waterways -- Lake Ontario, the Genessee River
and the Erie Canal -- will be given their rightful due as the crown jewels of the region.
Downtown development plans will focus on making these incredible resources easier to
Finally, the city has recognized the social elements that comprise livable communities.
One impressive feature of the plan is a focus on citizen involvement through the Neighbors
Building Neighborhoods program: Residents are encouraged to become active players in the
decisions that will improve their communities and way of life. The city of Rochester
recognizes that smart growth is about more than buildings and parks -- it's about people.
Stewart Airport (Orange
County) Conversion Eats Up Open Space
In an area of metropolitan New York already choking on suburban sprawl, the
privatization of the Stewart Airport is threatening one of the last remaining open spaces
in the region. The state-owned airport was turned over to private operation in April 2000.
Losing Our Natural Heritage: For the sake of more
sprawl, New York is putting beautiful areas like this on the chopping-block.
Now, Gov. Pataki is proposing to sell the adjacent buffer lands for private
development, threatening the extensive wetlands, forests and fields in the area. What was
once an oasis in a rapidly developing area will soon become yet another sprawling
development under the governor's proposal.
Supporters of the plan envision a metropolitan complex similar to the Metroplex in
Dallas. They point out that it is ideally situated five hours from Boston and Washington,
D.C., and "only" 90 minutes away from New York City. Unfortunately, most
visitors will spend that time in a car, because driving is still the main way to access
the project. Any development in this area is likely to contribute to the already
significant congestion and deteriorating air quality in the region.
In order to accommodate the new traffic, the state of New York has proposed the
construction of a new interchange on I-84 that will pave over more open space and spur
even more sprawl.
Another development in a neighboring state will also make traffic
worse. In a cornfield in rural New Jersey, near the small town of
Hopewell, Merrill Lynch is building a 3.5 million square-foot office
development that will employ as many as 3,500 people. In nearby Middletown,
AT&T recently built 1 million square feet of laboratories.
The conversion of Denver's Stapleton Airport is a model for how to turn unused land
into a well-planned development that preserves open space. New York would do well to look
west for ideas on how to develop Stewart Airport while protecting open space.