Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RTS Facility Redesign Public Workshop

I received a request to attend on behalf of the RRCDC an event that RGRTA billed as a Facility Redesign Public Workshop. My charge was to get a feel for how the transit authority conducts a public workshop as well as reporting what the points of contention are and gauge the concern of the neighborhood. I will continue with this more as journalism than an opinion piece.

Prior to the offical convening of the meeting, I was able to peruse some renderings/site plans to verse myself in what exactly RTS had planned for the main bus storage and staging area on East Main Street. The major reconfigurations would be expansions of the administration and operations buildings including a full fourth garage to accomodate a fleet expanded greatly since its construction in 1972. In farflung corners of the campus, new warehouse and non-revenue vehicle buildings would be erected (at right are a recent aerial view of the site and a site-plan I drew up showing the additions).

The major affront to urbanism in the renderings is the reconfiguration of employee parking. The current employee parking lot would be converted to parking for the bus fleet as well as staging areas to repair 20 articulated buses. As a result, the entire East Main frontage from the east end of the addition to the Administrative Building to Federal Street would be converted from a currently vacant grass lot backed by a retaining wall into 166 standard employee parking spaces. I was told these lots were once the site of homes and businesses.

The seeming aim of the neighborhood association is to create a larger green space buffer than shown in the renderings with better disguised parking. It appears that RGRTA already owns the property so there is no real option of meaningful infill development.

While billed as a workshop, the actual meeting took on the form of a hearing with public comment. John Caruso of Passero Associates presented the entire range of changes to the site and claimed an improvement over previous designs shown to and discussed with the neighborhood.

The Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition were out in full force despite the chosen location of the hearing, a church on Humboldt Street in the North Winton Village. In addition to concerns about snowplow overflow compromising sidewalk navigability and the quality of the buffer, President Kyle Crandall made an impassioned statement insisting that there has been no give-and-take as a result of previous input sessions. While neither Crandall nor the North Winton Village Association representative condone any surface parking lots in front of businesses, the Beechwood neighbors were looking for the slightest compromise in that the row of parking closest to Main be removed and accomodated in the rear of the facility in order to widen the green space on either side of the suburban style parking buffers landscaping.

I left the meeting before all residents had a chance to comment in order to catch my bus home, but I got the distinct impression that despite the recording of concerns on easel pad, that ultimately RGRTA does not consider the location or size of this parking lot negotiable. They will continue to accept written comments until 5:00pm, August 3rd at the following addresses:

RTS Facility Redesign
1372 East Main Street
Rochester, NY 14609

Subject: RTS Facility Redesign

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