Friday, September 18, 2009

Urban News Vol. 49

The local cable news network formerly known as RNews, which I will always refer to as such, ran a piece on television yesterday about the unveiling of a new parking lot at the public market. Their internet version apparently did not merit full treatment and its not very long so I'll go through it line by line (more or less).

'A busy weekend at the Rochester Public Market should be made easier by the addition of 200 parking spots.'
Ugh. A former wholesaler building with rear railroad access was razed, likely never to return again, for this unproductive purpose...

'City officials celebrated the completion of the new parking lot across from the market's main entrance.'
Congratulations! Way to create more 'open space' I guess!

'Parking has long been an issue at the public market, where crowds of 30,000 or more show up on weekends. "It seems whenever we add, people just fill them up. The market's grown in popularity. Not just our market, but markets nationally," said Jim Farr, Rochester Public Market.'

A trend toward eating higher quality unprocessed food is a healthy thing. The stark aversion to walking it back to your car is an unhealthy thing. I'd imagine you are expecting me to say something about how a handful of people utilize the bus system for their saturday market voyage, but I'm going to blast right into FULL-ON SOAPBOX MODE (Warning: Self-righteousness Ahead)! It is interesting how just as quickly the throng of 30,000 departs the Marketview Heights neighborhood, leaving no lasting investment impact beyond what the more permanent merchants have constructed. My version of logic dictates that living within walking distance of the Public Market would be highly desirable. There are excellent units for sale for a reasonable price in addition to more traditional standard homes that require some re-investment that are absolute steals. As is unfortunately the case in U.S. America, misperception is reality. And yes, I know, I don't live there, so I lack credibility. I really do believe in the potential of that neighborhood though.

'Public market officials are also negotiating with CSX to purchase an additional two acres of land for parking.'

What impact would this have on a future expansion of railroad service along the old New York Central mainline? On its face it doesn't sound good.

'Future plans also include a trolley to transport people from the parking lot to the market.'

I have to admit that through reading this sentence in isolation just now, I have a completely different interpretation and a completely different motivation for even bringing this into the fold as Urban News.

On the television version of this story, Casey Bortnick stood on a small railroad bridge adjacent to the mainline that once served as a spur to the market. To the untrained eye, I would have thought this was once the way deliveries of wholesale produce made their way to market. The impression I got from the broadcast was of a trolley to avoid the prospect of parking anywhere near the market, but it appears I was mistaken. As described the proposed trolley likely would serve the purpose of an airport conveyor belt for the extra-lazy.

Undaunted, I had hoped to continue with a thought exercise that would comment on logistics if a downtown to market trolley were posited. Unfortunately, a closer look at aerial maps reveals that the right of way for this particular track extends only as far as Scio Street due to the construction of Freddie Thomas High School. An opportunity to curve toward Portland Avenue is blocked by what appears to be a junkyard. I would have said that it is important to use a track of a gauge that could accomodate passengers or freight in the eventuality of decreased reliance on trucking.

This entry is quickly going down in flames but its almost entirely written so I am loathe to scrap it. Much of the talk around improving transit options in Rochester starts with a starter streetcar that would ply Main Street from reasonable end to reasonable end. This configuration could be expanded at later dates into a city-wide service as it once was. Since a loop at each end would simplify operation and allow for more cars, I would propose a wide loop that encompasses the Public Market by traversing Union Street, Bay or Central Park, and Goodman Street.

I realize this post is lacking in useful material, but feel free to comment on my streetcar routing proposal or chat about City Real Estate.


Rottenchester said...

I'm a regular Saturday shopper at the Market. I don't really see a need for additional parking there, especially now that the new lot is finished. On the Union Street side, if you're willing to walk a short distance, there's usually plenty of parking in the lot off Augusta St.

The trolley/parking lot shuttle idea is nuts. You can bring a small wheeled basket if you bought heavy stuff. Or the Market could rent larger shopping carts using a return system similar to SmartCartes at airports.

That all said, I'm not taking a bus from Pittsford to the Market. That would make my morning 1.5 hour trip a 3 hour odyssey. And the neighborhood around the Union St side of the market is very run-down, so you'd have to be a hell of a pioneer to buy there.

But for most of the year, people living in the nearby NOTA and Park Ave districts can ride their bikes to the market. I see a few bikers, but I'll bet there would be more if there were better bike parking facilities at the market.

I'd love to live in walking distance to the Market, which is a great Rochester institution. I took a good look at 55 Railroad St. The apartments there were quite small, and the ground floor was occupied by an ill-conceived market section that never took off. Maybe there are some more opportunities in that direction.

JoeBass123 said...

"A trend toward eating higher quality unprocessed food is a healthy thing. The stark aversion to walking it back to your car is an unhealthy thing."

well said! and i totally agree. a lot of people just don't see the big picture.

alameda said...

I also urge that some space be set aside for bicycle parking at the market. Doesn't the City notice the haphazard splatter of locked-up bikes around the entrance to the Market on Union? Obviously there's a need. Since bikers can't bring carts, they should use the on-site lot, or a few handicap car spaces, for bike parking.