Worst Public Speaker EVER Award, Goes to Me

Worst Public Speaker EVER Award, Goes to Me

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published June 15, 2010 and can be found here.

24 citizens spoke regarding the Mortimer Street Bus Terminal Tuesday night at City Hall in front of Council members, the media, and a standing-room-only crowd.

Tonight was the City Council's final public hearing and vote on whether or not to release a portion of Mortimer Street (in the heart of downtown Rochester) to the transit authority to build a 26-bay bus terminal. I used the opportunity not to denounce the bus terminal but more so to point out that the City of Rochester has no transportation plan. Also to sharpen my public speaking skills, which, after tonight I realize can only get better. I stumbled, I was shakey, I lost my place several times, and my mouth was so dry my tongue kept making this annoying clicking sound with every syllable. But, I delivered my message and that's what counts. Anyway, here is the text of my statement:     I am a 33 year old design professional, originally from Long Island and a graduate of RIT. After graduation I could have easily left Rochester. I could have left for New York City, Seattle, Portland or Austin, Texas. And although thousands of young people leave every year, I chose to stay. My wife and I often discuss the possibility of leaving for a more vibrant city, but for the time-being we are lucky enough to have good jobs here in downtown. I will tell you though... Rochester will never see true growth if we cannot attract and keep young professionals. These people are looking for cities where car ownership is not a requirement. Cities with well connected neighborhoods and transit options that include convenient bus service, rail & streetcars, bike lanes & amenities, and streets that favor pedestrians over automobiles.

Let me be clear, I am not against a bus terminal, I am FOR a transportation plan. Tonight you are voting on a very costly and isolated transit project with a questionable future because our city has no plan. It is up to you address this missing puzzle piece.

GTC and RGRTA serve 7 counties. The specific interests of this city are not--and cannot--be priority #1 for them. But you are not at the mercy of the regional MPO when it comes to transportation planning in the City of Rochester. There is no law that says the City of Rochester cannot have a transportation plan or transportation advisory board. You have at least 20 City boards & commissions to help advise you -- and not a single one focuses on transportation, transit, or neighborhood connectedness. This is why we lost federal T.I.G.E.R. money this year and why we will continue to lose out if you do not act.

     Rochester needs a transportation advisory board.

  1. This body should consist of representatives from the City as well as Rochester's immediate ring of suburbs
  2. This body must work to develop a long range plan - one that includes pedestrians, bikes, buses, rail transit, AND transit oriented development
  3. This body must represent our community but also work closely with GTC/RGRTA, the county, state, and USDOT to ensure that the City's plan is carried out

Tonight I am not asking for a 'Yes' or 'No' vote on the bus terminal -- I'm asking for you to do something great. Do something that will place Rochester in the same circle as Austin TX, Portland, Denver, Charlotte and Seattle. Beginning tomorrow, push for a plan that clearly defines how all forms of transportation fit into the City's master plan. Without this important tool you're voting with your eyes closed.

You have many people who are willing to set everything aside to discuss a transportation oriented plan for Rochester. My group Reconnect Rochester, the Rochester Community Design Center, Rochester Cycling Alliance, Rochester Rail Transit Committee, Louis Slaughter, the USDOT, and on and on and on.

I know you understand this most urgent need.       Transit is not a luxury item. Transit is not buses only. Transit is not isolated. Transit is woven into the fabric of every great city.

Council later voted to release the land to RGRTA. The vote was 7 to 2 opposed.

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA