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The Charrette In Review and What’s Next

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A Community Public Realm Vision Plan

On September 24th 2011, the Corn Hill Community took the first step toward a community public realm vision plan. The meeting was a day long gathering of interested and available residents and homeowners who wanted to have input into the process. The group was randomly divided into six focus areas with multiple issues including traffic, green space, art, homes, trees, etc. The process was supported by Rochester Regional Community Design Center trained professionals who had expertise in urban planning and design and facilitated a new look at the rich historic Third Ward or Corn Hill.

Prior to the group walkabout the community, the tone was set by a short pictorial history of the area and a presentation about what issues communities should look at and what is possible and presented by other similar community realm planners.

Following the walkabout, the groups settled in to put the dreams on paper and begin to sketch out what is a potential even if only in a plan or dream. Each focus area – the roadway corridors around Corn Hill, the historic homes of the north and south, the mixed use area of the northeast triangle area, the edge or new development, and the river had two tables of dreamers and the results were some ideas similar and some ideas in a polar direction. Everyone participated and had a “place at the table”.

At the close of the day, each table presented the ideas generated from the experience and many maps, sketches and scraps of papers were produced.

All of the ideas will be captured in a community presentation in March and a general working document will help guide the community through small and large steps that will be required to move a great community with potential to a world class urban environment.

Key Points and Trend Ideas

The following are some key points and trend ideas that came from the groups with two major threads present in each focus group if not from each table.

Community Safety

While there is a continued concern about property and auto crime issues, generally it was agreed that Corn Hill is a relatively safe urban community that could be enhanced with education and resident vigilance.

Pedestrian Safety

As presented in the historical review, Corn Hill has always had a definite boundary. At the turn of the century we were surrounded on all sides by water– the River and two canals which allowed access via bridges. Today we are surrounded by major roadways that are often treacherous to navigate. In addition, we have our own “inner loop” with South Fitzhugh-Clarrisa which is extra wide roadway with no stops, which like the external roadways has encouraged high speed traffic, making pedestrian and pet travel perilous to cross. Other cross streets such as Atkinson and Adams are also viewed as race tracks rather than vehicle movement in a residential community. An inviting safe foot-travel plan would do much to link the various sub-neighbor groups to the greater Corn Hill community. Narrower traffic lanes with bump outs, innovative parking, and a tree lined center lane, roadway entrances that would send an invitation and welcome to the visitor was presented by groups.

The Riverway

The River has been an important factor in the settlement of Rochester and Corn Hill. The north flow brought the settlers from the south and the Canal created an impetus for commerce and the Boomtown of the turn of the century. Today, the great Rochester community appears to have forgotten the river and several of the focus groups want to take back the waterfront and make it a usable and desirable community destination. Some of the ideas were multiple walking and strolling paths, access, and opportunities for viewing and reflecting by the waterway.


Lighting, both the quality and quality was discussed. Other communities with an historical base have found lighting that is interesting and attractive yet bright and inviting. A serious look should be given to new amenities such as marked crosswalks as well as historical signage and lighting.

Other ideas included:

  • Revamping of the green spaces.
  • Creating destination points with benches, fountains, and sculptures.
  • While Corn Hill appears not to have space to build, there are pockets of properties that could be used for the community such as more services via retail, farmers market, community garden, dog walk area etc.

In Closing

The public realm should encourage interaction both between neighbors and neighbor groups but also the greater Rochester area and our neighboring community groups. An historical trail that was interactive and available via a tape loop might foster interest in our community and support the historical preservation. This along with historical markers in addition to the few sculptured signs might foster interest both from home owners and perspective home owners.

Next Steps

Some of the ideas presented will take time, effort and money but much of what was suggested can be assigned the various standing communities of the Corn Hill Neighbors Association and work toward – cleaning up and fixing up can begin now.

The Charrette is a sub-topic of the Development Committee and that community has already identified areas that can be started immediately.

A full report will be presented to the community in March but you can get started today by contacting the Development or Beautification Committees. In addition, your ideas as posted on this website are reviewed regularly and parsed to the appropriate people, organizations, or government groups.

On behalf of the Charrette Steering Committee, “Thank You”, for your concerns and suggestions.

See Pictures from the Charrette