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What needs to be fixed or improved in Rochester?

July 24, 2018
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Patrick Keane

A recent phone survey conducted on behalf of the city of Rochester asked what, if anything, people would like to see fixed or improved in Rochester.

Survey participants said adding parks, improving street maintenance and building more affordable housing were at the top of the list, but none of the suggestions saw support from more than 9 percent of those questioned.

We asked Rochester City Council candidates seeking seats in wards 1 and 3 what single issue they would suggest needs to be fixed or improved.

Here’s how they responded:

Ward 1

Patrick Keane

We need to address our property tax growth rate — mainly residential, but also rental and business property taxes. Property taxes go up because property values have gone up, which is a good thing, but also because the city cannot keep up with the cost of providing city services.

As a council member, I would push to:

• Quickly move policy concepts from the approved comprehensive plan into our city ordinances and land-use manual.

• Challenge all city departments to prepare budget reductions of 10 percent to better understand our current spending. I am not advocating for generic budget cuts, but I want to push a “continual-improvement” mindset.

• Consider implementing a maximum tax increment financing (TIF) of 5 percent so new development projects contribute taxes quicker.

Heather Holmes

During my visits with my Ward 1 neighbors, most individuals are quite happy with their neighborhoods and the city in general.

However, communication with city leaders has some people frustrated. In addition, some ordinances involving snow removal, lawn maintenance, public park rentals, etc. have come into conversation.

I believe a review of our ordinances and how they affect citizens would be a good step in understanding which ordinances make sense and which ordinances we should consider updating.

Kim Sin

Building an equitable infrastructure to manage growth and development should assist both large- and small-business owners/developers and is an area Rochester can improve upon in the future.

With our desire to attract businesses with DMC, we must simplify the process for developers of all sizes, while, at the same time ensuring city, county and state standards are met.

From personal experience through recently opening our own business, as well as in assisting others to do so, obtaining a construction permit to just begin the process can take months. The longer it takes to secure a permit, the longer business developers must pay rent and other unpredictable expenses.

It’s so important to help our small business to get construction permits in a timely manner.

Paul Myhrom

According to the survey, Rochester’s biggest apprehension is DMC and subsequent growth with all of its benefits and pitfalls. It’s an economic boon with more jobs, better paychecks and a lot of trickle down for both related and unrelated businesses, but unless managed wisely we will have housing and labor shortages and city leaders and planners need to be watchful and diligent as we provide infrastructure, services and public safety while holding costs down to the related growth.

We cannot afford to just “build a city” and then hope.

In the first place, I do not care for that approach, and 34 years of business experience encourages me to think and act more cautiously. Finally, we need to keep residents informed and comfortable with the plan.

Ward 3

Arlo Kroening

Having great parks and bike trails is a must for a town developing as fast as Rochester is. As the buildings around town are erected so should ways to escape the everyday rat race. A nice bike ride or walk on a paved and well lit trail is soothing.

Rochester has to keep parks, bike trails and even disc golf courses in its thoughts as we expand. I’ve always enjoyed getting off of work and enjoying a little nature time. I think it helps the mental soul to get out of the house and enjoy a little fresh air.

So let’s keep building our beautiful city but not forget about a little “monkey bar” time!

Nick Campion

We need to improve livability for everyone. This means supporting quality of life for those living outside of downtown and DMC. Affordability and transit are important, but I’d like to discuss improving our parks.

First, let’s fix what we have. Our parks and trails are showing their age. A strategy to refresh our existing facilities and equipment is a must.

Second, our community’s park expectations are changing. We need strategic investments. Let’s test out mobile splash pads. We need more indoor recreation spots for families, especially for winter. The investments don’t have to be huge to have a huge impact.

Improved parks are part of a community that is livable for all. Coupled with affordability and transit improvements, supporting our neighborhoods is my priority.

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