It's early Monday morning, but here are some thoughts left over from yesterday.
Rochester, try as they may to deny or forestall the inevitable, is a dying city. The population is slowly dwindling, younger singles and couples moving on to more exciting and lucrative territory, leaving behind an aging body of citizens, shrinking the tax base and increasing the schools' deficit. There seems to be no good way to staunch the outflow; the various civic upgrades have had little to no effect.
They tried to create an upscale district called "High Falls" to attract the younger set with an entertainment venue; the eateries, microbreweries and clubs have mostly closed, leaving behind an empty shadow. The city hired an outfit to begin ferry runs between Rochester and Toronto; tellingly, the ferry was constructed in Australia and was damaged by running into a pier in NYC before it ever reached Rochester. The outfit running the ferry went bankrupt within 5 months of implementing their plan; the city ended up buying the ferry outright for a ridiculously high sum, and has already spent more than half of the contingency fund during the first quarter of operations. Unless the good people of Toronto begin swarming into Rochester in legions to sample our attractions, this enterprise too seems doomed to failure.
Construction plans continue apace for a glorified underground bus station in the middle of downtown, destroying a series of historic buildings in the process. When the public grew leery of paying millions for what was nothing more than an attempt to provide patronage and give the gentler citizens a method of avoiding having to contemplate the deteriorating downtown area, the planners tossed in a Performing Arts Center and a Community College branch, thus assuring that millions more would be squandered on a facility that, unless we miss our guess, will be little-used and a money pit.
Other ideas have been advanced, in particular the destruction of what was once prime retail and office space, the hub of downtown, in fact, appropriately named Midtown Plaza, now a hollow shell. Some politicians are advocating that there should be erected on that site a casino. We are indifferent to gambling; we refrain because we have better uses to which to put our money, and it is slightly possible that it may be profitable, at least after a number of years of operation. We do wonder, though, why it is that politicians so often promote gambling as a means of salvation.
Saturday, the main headline on the D&C read "Catholics to shut down 11 churches." This is just another omen of the slow, excruciating death of Rochester. Most of the churches were operating at 25% or less of capacity, and the dwindling supply of Priests available to conduct Mass is approaching a crisis point. The parishioners of the churches will be folded into the congregations of those churches that remain open. How sad they must be.
The banner headline at the top of Sunday's local section read "All Saints dissolved by vote."
The Episcopal diocese of Rochester voted to shutter the church and transfer the assets and property to trustees of the diocese. Why did they do this? The diocese refused to pay All Saints $16,000 that it was owed because the diocese disapproved of the decision of the church and the Episcopal Church of the USA to support the 2003 ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire, and to give individual dioceses the right to decide whether to bless same-sex unions.
Turmoil. A city at the brink of chaos, with ever more grandiose plans proposed to resuscitate it. Religions, losing adherents or driving them away. These are grim days, friends.
OH YES. I ALMOST FORGOT. SHAME ON AOL. BOYCOTT THEIR ADVERTISER.