Page Seventy-One

03 FEBRUARY 2006

An intriguing -- and surprisingly novel -- idea.

 

 

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$7M center, aquarium proposed for port

(January 31, 2006) A proposal for a $7 million Great Lakes research and educational center, including an aquarium, is gaining momentum as the city plans for the future of the ferry terminal in Charlotte.

Initially, the State University of New York at Brockport, which is behind the plan for a Lake Ontario Natural Resource Center, had considered a location within Hamlin Beach State Park.

But with the ferry's debut last year, the port became a more desirable location, said William Condo, a Charlotte resident who is working with the college to promote the project. And with the Cat's demise, the research center is emerging as a key to redevelopment, he said.

"This suddenly turned out to be the most viable thing that might happen down there," Condo said.

The Port of Rochester was discussed as a home for the research center back in the early 90s, when the City Council adopted its waterfront plan, primarily because the research center needs access to a deep-water port.

Since late last summer, the city has been negotiating the terms of a memorandum of agreement with the college, to locate the center just north of the ferry terminal, near where the Wild Hearts Catamaran docks.

Sasaki Associates Inc., the firm the city hired to plan for the redevelopment, is considering the center among other proposals for the port, said principal planner Varoujan Hagopain. The center's location, however, is not set in stone, he said.

"It could be on the river, it could be further up, further down, it could be in the terminal building. It could be anywhere at this point," Hagopain said.

SUNY Brockport plans include a research facility that will employ as many as 30 people and attract researchers from throughout the Great Lakes region to study the lake's ecology. Classrooms and an auditorium would offer both Brockport staff and local elementary and high schools the opportunity to conduct classes on-site. And an aquarium and educational outreach program would teach port visitors more about the lake.

"One of the things the port needs is seven-days-a-week, 12-months-of-the-year activity there," said Condo, a public relations consultant who is volunteering his services to SUNY Brockport because, as a Charlotte resident, he believes the center would be good for the community.

Condo believes that the resource center could draw tourists to the Charlotte waterfront.

Business owners in the empty ferry terminal said today that the center sounds like a good idea.

"Any attraction that could bring people here would be a positive thing," said Kiran Patel, owner of the Quizno's sandwich shop.

Bill Briggs, who owns the Lakeside Floral and Antique Gallery, liked the fact that an aquarium and educational center might draw families to the lakefront.

"If you go to any of the major cities, there's always an aquatic zoo on the waterfront," he said. "I think it would be great."

And if researchers at the center are successful in addressing the water pollution problems near the Genesee River outlet, local businesses would get a double benefit, said Tom Bearman, owner of the California Rollin' II Sushi Bar.

Even the center's researchers could make a big difference for nearby restaurants, he said.

"Every person is going to help," Bearman said.

MEDGECOM@DemocratandChronicle.com

And again....

 

 

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Great Lakes research center proposed for port

(February 1, 2006) Offering travel across Lake Ontario didn't prove successful, but local scientists hope that probing what's under the waves could offer the Charlotte waterfront a rebirth.

A proposal for a $7 million Great Lakes research and educational center, including an aquarium, is gaining momentum as the city plans for the future of the terminal at the mouth of the Genesee River.

Initially, the State University College at Brockport, which is behind the plan for the Lake Ontario Natural Resource Center, had considered building the facility within Hamlin Beach State Park.

But after the ferry debuted last year, the port became a more desirable location, said William Condo, a Charlotte resident who is volunteering his time to promote the project. With the ferry's demise last month, the research center has emerged as a key to redevelopment, he said. "This suddenly turned out to be the most viable thing that might happen down there."

Supporters have secured more than $300,000 for the center from several federal sources, with the support of Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and Thomas Reynolds, R-Clarence, Erie County.

And SUNY Brockport President John Halstead has made the project his No. 1 priority for federal funding, according to Joseph Makarewicz, distinguished professor of environmental science and biology at SUNY Brockport and one of the researchers behind the center.

Halstead on Tuesday described the proposed center as "a strategically located icon for educational programs, job creation and the study of environmental issues."

Halstead met with Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy to discuss the project, but the mayor wants more information before he makes a commitment, city spokesman Gary Walker said Tuesday.

"[Duffy's] initial blush is that it's an exciting project with lots of promise," Walker said.

Since last summer, the city and the college have been negotiating the terms of a memorandum of agreement, stating their support for the project and proposing a location just north of the ferry terminal. However, discussion slowed when then-Deputy Commissioner of Community Development Larry Stid died in November.

Recently, City Councilman Bob Stevenson encouraged consideration of the research center, which he recalled from discussions nearly 10 years ago, he said. "We're looking at everything," Stevenson said of the redevelopment effort.

And so, Sasaki Associates Inc., the firm the city hired to plan for the ferry terminal's redevelopment, is including the Lake Ontario Natural Resource Center in at least one of its alternative plans for the port, said Varoujan Hagopain, principal planner. The center's location, however, is not set in stone, he said.

"It could be on the river, it could be farther up, farther down. It could be in the terminal building. It could be anywhere at this point," Hagopain said.

Sasaki Associates, which is based in Watertown, Mass., is preparing several different concepts for the port and is expected to present its proposals by May.

Meanwhile SUNY Brockport is finalizing the details for a research facility that may employ as many as 10 people and attract dozens of researchers from throughout the Great Lakes region, Makarewicz said.

What's next
Supporters of the project expect to present their case to Mayor Robert Duffy during his visit to the ferry terminal for a "City Hall on the Road" event 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today.

The session is in the terminal building's departure hall, 1000 N. River St., in Charlotte. It's designed for residents to give input, ask questions and discuss issues facing their neighborhoods. People attending will be asked to fill out a short registration form to permit city staffers to call with answers to their questions. Duffy also is encouraging people to arrive early and patronize Charlotte businesses. Free parking is available at the terminal.

City Hall on the Road will move to various locations throughout the community, alternating monthly with a similar "Mayor's Night In," in which city officials will be on hand after hours at City Hall.

For more information, call (585) 428-7432.

The port would allow research vessels to dock, and projects could run the gamut from invasive species to contaminants, fisheries to watershed issues, he said.

"On the American side of Lake Ontario, there are no research facilities," Makarewicz said.

Faculty and students from most of the local colleges and universities already collaborate with SUNY Brockport through the Great Lakes Research Consortium, and a number of their activities could be shifted to the center, he said.

Research efforts based at the Brockport campus a few miles inland have brought in more than $15 million in grants over the past 20 years for studying the Lake Ontario watershed. With the research center, the potential for securing research funds would only increase, Makarewicz said.

Classrooms and an auditorium would also offer both Brockport faculty and local elementary and high schools the opportunity to conduct classes on-site, offering students hands-on ecology and biology.

And a small aquarium of lake-dwelling plants and animals, paired with an educational outreach program, could attract visitors to the port to learn more about Lake Ontario, he said.

"One of the things the port needs is seven-days-a-week, 12-months-of-the-year activity there," said Condo, a public relations consultant who is volunteering his services because he believes the center would be good for his community.

Business owners in the empty ferry terminal said Tuesday that the center sounds like a good idea.

"Any attraction that could bring people here would be a positive thing," said Kiran Patel, owner of Quizno's sub shop.

Bill Briggs, who owns the Lakeside Floral and Antique Gallery, liked the fact that an aquarium and educational center could draw families to the lakefront.

"If you go to any of the major cities, there's always an aquatic zoo on the waterfront," he said. "I think it would be great."

And if researchers at the center are successful in addressing the water pollution problems near the Genesee River outlet, local businesses would get a double benefit, said Tom Beaman, owner of the California Rollin' II Sushi Bar.

Even the center's researchers could make a big difference for nearby restaurants, he said.

"Every person is going to help," Beaman said.

MEDGECOM@DemocratandChronicle.com

Have to blow my own horn:

The Aquarium of the Great Lakes?  (Hey.. of Cleveland can build a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its waterfront, what's so crazy about an ecologically informative display of Great Lakes ecology and zoology?)

The First Nations Centre of the Great Lakes?  (Good Grief... what am I thinking?  The local Rochester Native Centre can't even get enough finding to pay its rented office space... and has just been forced to move to more modest digs.)

 Native Canadian : 23 June 2004

And...

Straight from the Department of Meaningless Promises That Can't Broken. "I (Mayoral candidate Wade Norwood) will insist that we move forward aggressively to make the most of our waterfront and northwest community assets."  What the hell does that mean?  A major year-round indoor waterpark in Charlotte?  A quarter-mile pier with an anchored cruise ship with a hotel, shops, restaurants and nightclubs?  Building the largest aquarium on the Great Lakes?

Or adding some potted hanging geraniums on the lightpoles?  Maybe putting up a few nautical-themed banners to spruce up the dreariness a bit?  We just don't know.  And frankly, from the sounds of it, neither does Wade.  Considering the other milquetoast mayoral hopefuls, I suspect he's not alone.

Native Canadian : 28 July 2005

One more...

Droll.  Perfectly pedestrian.  It's somewhat unbelievable that a public official would even mention such a wuss of an idea... sort of like musing about including plans for a postage stamp machine.  Whoa, now.  Let's not get wild and reckless about our 'Master Plan'.

The Aquarium of the Great Lakes.  A floating hotel-casino-conference center.  A model environmentally sustainable housing project with ecologically-focused retailing center.  An off-shore wind-turbine farm.

The Upstate Center for First Nations Studies.

Damn.  If some disabled Mohawk can pop off a few original ideas, one would think elected 'leaders' could come up with something better than some cheesy VLT gaming center.  But that would require thinking outside the box.  Breaking paradigms.  Venturing into uncharted waters.  You know...

Being creative.  Lord Knows we don't want to try that...

Native Canadian : 13 October 2005

OK.  Enough self-promotion.

"The port would allow research vessels to dock, and projects could run the gamut from invasive species to contaminants, fisheries to watershed issues, (Joseph Makarewicz) said.  On the American side of Lake Ontario, there are no research facilities," Makarewicz said."

Good news and bad news time. Monterey Bay Aquarium

The good news is: It's a fantastic idea.

The bad news is: It's far too limited in scope to really achieve it's full potential.  I'm talking investment along the lines of the entire ferry project... $50-100 million.

Ever been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium?  I have and it's a remarkable place which is sprawling, entertaining, educational and just plain fun for everyone... the entire Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf area is a neat place and a Must See for a Central California visit.  Make that Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and the entire Northern California area is a Must See; I love California far better than any state south of the Mason-Dixon line (hell, I love New York far better than any southern state).  See my I Love California page.

Take a look at the photos.  True, Rochester's waterfront kinda pales in comparison to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - Monterey CA grandeur of the Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean loaded with sea otters and kelp with the mountains as a backdrop.  But the attractions are focused on the environment in which they're located... not the other way around.

Capitalize on the lake itself, don't use the lake as a medium for capitalization.  Rochester hasn't shown much interest in the geography, biology, history or ecology of the lake at its doorstep.  Monterey HAS used its waterfront as each of the above.

 

 Cannery Row - Monterey CA    Fisherman's Wharf - Monterey CA

The Fisherman's Wharf complex includes a convention centre as well as a DoubleTree Hotel.  A real sweet way to have a memorable conference and one which could have not only been possible, but actually preferable than one on a muddy river plopped in the middle of an urban desert.  That requires some forward thinking on the part of city developers and designers of a master plan... not hallmarks of Rochester conventional school of thought.

But as far as ideas go, the research centre plan is a step in the right direction.

Of course, Monterey's presence of a military institution is a healthy hedge against some local To next page dinosaur of a company when it nose-dives into the financial dirt.  But having Rochester as a military base of operations poses a whole set of other considerations...as Niagara Falls or Rome NY can attest.