With Enough Creativity, Parcel 5 Design Can Meet Everyone’s Needs

With Enough Creativity, Parcel 5 Design Can Meet Everyone’s Needs

[David Kramer as a MAZE is swept into the gravel at Parcel 5. Rochester based artists Nicholas Gurewitch and Jeffrey Stanin instigated a collectively-broomed labyrinth. July 29th, 2018]

by George Cassidy Payne

Having spent some time in Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, St. Louis, Omaha, Chicago, New Orleans, Lexington, Knoxville, Charlotte,  Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Burlington, Montreal, Ottawa, and San Salvador, El Salvador, I can say that Rochester does not lack culture, history, entertainment, good food, individuality, or civic pride. The one thing Rochester lacks is people walking downtown at night. Here, I agree completely with Mayor Warren. We need something out of the ordinary that will generate foot traffic and create a buzz. We need a signature attraction at Parcel 5.

The good news is that Mayor Warren understands what needs to be done. She is smart, committed, and motivated by a love for Rochester that should not be so rare in politicians serving our communities. Above all else, when it comes to Parcel 5,  Lovely Warren knows that downtown Rochester must become a vibrant hub for people to walk, recreate, shop, and do business. She is the right person in charge, and we should get behind her leadership to do what she was elected to do.

mIME 1

Ray Ray Mitrano interviewing mimes and spectators at Fake Visionary Square: Miming at Parcel 5 [Photo: David Kramer] 5/7/17

Nevertheless, we all need to be careful as to not commit the fallacy of false alternatives. There is no reason why just one option must be selected when several features of different plans can be integrated into one ultimate design. I think we are positioned to do something very special with this space. We have the rare opportunity to create a performing arts center big enough to meet the needs of RBTL, an underground parking garage, mixed use office and retail on the first floor, a community space with trees, walkways, a fountain, and outdoor stage in front of the building, and a wide open park space — similar to what exists now — on top of the building. How cool would that be? Imagine the views of the city from on top rather than below. There could be elevators and staircases on each side of the building leading up to the community area, which would be open during standard hours (7 am-11 pm) and patrolled by peace officers, volunteers, and the RPD. This space could include a track, recreational fields, trees, flowers, and benches; and it could also serve as an outdoor arts venue with one of the most unique ambiances in Western New York.

No matter what direction we move in, our city cannot afford to put artificial limits on what is possible. I often ask myself what Frederick Law Olmsted would do if he were given the Parcel 5 commission. In all humility, I think he would create something along the lines of what I am proposing. This multi-use, multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, democratic space can achieve several important goals: it can create a major source of excitement in the form of a state of the art performing arts center; it can beautify the front of the space and invite people to congregate on Main St; it can help lighten the city’s parking burden; and it can keep the dream alive for an open air park space on top.

Let us proceed in the spirit of Olmsted and the legacy he left behind in Rochester. With enough innovation and courage, a design that meets everyone’s needs can be brought to fruition and shape the character of our city forever.


“Our” Ray Ray makes the big time

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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