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Questions for candidates: Rochester City Council Ward 3

September 21, 2018
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Nick Campion

The following questions and responses from Rochester City Council Ward 3 candidates Nick Campion and Arlo Kroening were previously published in the Post Bulletin and are collected here.

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Housing

Housing availability and costs have been the topic of Rochester City Council conversations in recent years.

We asked the candidates running for Rochester’s Ward 3 seat what measures they believe the city should take to address existing and future housing concerns.

Here’s how they responded:

Nick Campion

Building an affordable community takes fair government policy and creative thinking.

We must be more selective with handing out public money. Public financial support should come with clear public benefits, including increased affordability.

Government also needs to find ways to make the building process more efficient. Housing design should be flexible to meet our community’s modern needs, not the needs of 40 years ago. Increased design options is a proven way to encourage affordability.

I’ve helped lay the groundwork for these ideas throughout my time serving Rochester. With everyone’s support, we can act on affordable housing.

Arlo Kroening

I think we need to make sure we define the housing question accurately.

There may actually be a shortage of some housing and surplus of other based on what people are looking for and the price point. We have current and future Rochester residents that are not in need of “affordable” housing but also can’t afford the majority of the houses that are on the market.

More flexible zoning and building codes could promote housing to fill whatever gaps exist. I believe this could help but as always I’m eager to hear other thoughts and ideas.

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Setting priorities

The Rochester City Council is working on strategic planning, with the goal of setting short-term and long-term priorities for the city.

We asked council candidates in Wards 1 and 3 what they see as the top priorities for the city in the next three to five years.

Here’s how they responded:

Arlo Kroening

Strategic planning is easy to say but often hard to do because of variables that will occur through time.

As a council person I will encourage growth to our city in both the residential and commercial sides for the short and long term. But, as another goal, I think we need to work on and maintain what we already have better. We have bridges with beautiful flower boulevards that have sidewalks with trip hazards.

We also have wonderful children in great schools that are understaffed because of budgeting. Sometimes you need to work on past decisions to make future ones make sense.

Nick Campion

Balanced reinvestment in our neighborhoods must be a priority. With the cranes downtown, many are forgetting the importance of Rochester’s neighborhoods. Our parks and trails, long a source of pride and quality of life, need resources. Small improvement grants can unite neighborhoods. We need a more systematic approach to building and maintaining neighborhood pride.

Living in Rochester needs to be affordable. Housing affordability is critical. Families grapple with lack of transit access and the high cost of childcare. We need sustainable approaches to meet our community’s needs.

Our future demands an educated workforce to power a diverse economy. Rochester must partner with educational organizations to offer new regional opportunities. Small and existing businesses need our partnership in a fast-changing, challenging economy.

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Transportation

Recent transportation studies related to Destination Medical Center point to a need to reduce peak-period congestion into downtown and on downtown streets.

We asked Rochester City Council candidates from Ward 3 what, if anything, they would suggest the council do to reduce downtown traffic impacts.

Here’s how they responded:

Nick Campion

Reductions in peak-period congestion are possible, as outlined in our recently approved comprehensive plan. There is no single solution to congestion, but these are a few steps to real, noticeable reductions:

• Make public transit a viable option. Increase service areas, efficiency and ride attractiveness while reducing costs through increased ridership.

• Coordinate parking with our community partners. The city’s transit and parking strategies should dovetail with our major employers.

• Encourage housing development downtown. People who live near their work don’t cause congestion.

Arlo Kroening

The obvious perfect solution is to utilize our great public transit system and shuttles, but these only work for certain people.

I’d suggest working with downtown businesses to stagger work hours, so everyone isn’t leaving at once. I’m told Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys have more than 1,500 private contractors with shifts often starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. If they started at 7 and ended at 3:30, many people would leave downtown before it gets congested.

Another option is educating people about alternate routes. I tested this theory on a trip to Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe. It took me less time by using Third Avenue to get to Seventh Street, instead of going straight through downtown.

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What needs fixed?

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 Ward 3 what single issue they would suggest needs to be fixed or improved.

Here’s how they responded:

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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