North Star Commons Naming Event

~ Source: City of Rochester, All photos by Bruce Cook

Mayor Lovely A. Warren joined City Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Norman Jones and community partners today to announce plans for the North Star Commons; a new plaza located on the Genesee Riverway Trail along Exchange Boulevard, across from Fitzhugh Place.

North Star Commons is named after the North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper published by Frederick Douglass in Rochester in the basement of the Memorial AME Zion Church in the Corn Hill Neighborhood. In addition, educators who participated in the Southern Student Teachers Program (SSTP)—a series of efforts to improve educational outcomes in Rochester City Schools during the 1960s and 70s—were dubbed “the North Star” for their educational and community engagement efforts to bring forth a new culture in Rochester’s public education system.

“The West River Wall project represents a major step forward in our effort to fulfill the community-building, job-creating potential of the Genesee River through our ROC the Riverway program,” said Mayor Warren. “This plaza will forever serve as a reminder of Rochester’s rich educational and civil rights history. I am thankful to the Corn Hill Neighbors Association, the New York State Canal Corporation and our Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for their ongoing support. This plaza will be a beautiful addition to our vibrant neighborhoods.”

“Enhancing our riverfront was a key component of the 2012 Corn Hill Community Vision Plan funded by the Corn Hill Neighbors Association,” says Jeff Holdsworth, President of the Corn Hill Neighbors Association. “The North Star Commons brings together the Corn Hill Neighbors’ commitment to preserving our history while investing in a vibrant future. We are hopeful that the public art here will inspire dialogue and an increased understanding of diverse perspectives well into the future.”

“Dr. William Young, Rev. Bobby Saucer and Aleen Rush (initiators of the SSTP) saw the need to have a critical mass of Black educators in the Rochester City School District to improve outcomes,” said Dr. Andrew Ray, a participant of the Southern Student Teachers Program. “The results were immediate. “The Black educators across the city had a critical and positive impact on educational outcomes, proving that they truly were the North Star of our education system. I’m thrilled their legacy will be instilled with the North Star Commons.”

The North Star Commons is included in the West River Wall replacement project, a part of the ROC the Riverway program. Phase 1 of the City’s West River Wall Improvements project includes $7.6 million for 30 projects that will create a seamless connection of destinations along the eastern and western banks of the Genesee River. It joins several other significant ROC the Riverway projects, including the ROC City Skate Park; the Rundel Library North Terrace; and Charles Carroll Plaza renovations.

The concept for the plaza was planned in coordination with the City of Rochester and members of the Corn Hill Neighbors Association. Construction on the plaza is anticipated to be complete by the summer of 2022.

Source: City of Rochester

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