I was at an event about problems on the west side of Rochester. One of the speakers brought up a speech by Martin Luther King from the late 60's that addressed poverty in our communities. Almost as a response to this call Rochester tried to solve these problems by building.
We built townhouses on Westfall Road, Fight Village, the Chase tower downtown, and other projects. These structures received large amounts of public subsidies and long term tax breaks.This trend continued through the years with the Bausch & Lomb tower, the Hyatt, Voter's Block, Midtown Rising, Corn Hill Landing, High Falls, the Fast Ferry, the Marina project, and more. Despite this, over the last 40 years, poverty has doubled, our downtown has failed to develop, and more people than ever are working jobs with wages so low that quality of life and survival are major issues for them and their families. Building has clearly not been the solution to reducing poverty.
All these years, the city has been run by the Democrats. As I travel around the city talking to people and attending meetings, I keep hearing the same complaint. Crime is too high, jobs are too few, our streets are falling apart, and our government is not listening to our ideas, concerns or requests. These were the very complaints expressed more than 40 years ago which Martin Luther King summed up so well. I wonder how much longer the City of Rochester will wait before it stops trying to build its way out of our problems and starts working with its residents to create the solutions that will benefit us all.