Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Council decides on operation of marina, soccer stadium

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 1:31 PM

Last night’s City Council meeting was quick, but significant. The city chose an operator for the marina at the Port of Rochester, picked a vendor to provide body cameras to the Rochester Police Department, chose new management for the soccer stadium, and agreed on a consultant to study the city’s nuisance points system despite a potential conflict of interest with the chosen firm.

The company, Rochester-based Strategic Community Intervention, is led by former Rochester mayor Bill Johnson. The nuisance points system, which gives business points for bad behavior, began under the Johnson administration and some say that it’s a conflict of interest to let Johnson’s company study his own program.

City Council approved giving SCI the contract, pending a ruling from the city’s Board of Ethics, which meets on Monday night. It’s not clear what happens if the board rules against the SCI hiring, or even if City Council has to abide by the board’s decision. Two Council members, Carolee Conklin and Adam McFadden, voted last night against hiring SCI, choosing not to wait for the ethics board to weigh in.

Mayor Lovely Warren pursued the study because of a perception, she said, that the nuisance points system is applied unfairly and unevenly across the city.

Between poor attendance, money troubles, and the perception that the area where the stadium is located is dangerous, it’s safe to say that the Rochester Rhinos and the city’s soccer stadium have failed to live up to initially lofty expectations.

City Council agreed last night to turn over operation and management of Sahlen’s Stadium to local couple David and Wendy Dworkin, who are part owners of the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings — formerly the Rochester Royals. The couple will buy the Rhinos from the United Soccer League.

The City of Rochester recently ended its agreement with the previous stadium operator over an unpaid debt.
David Dworkin told Council members last night that he is committed to providing Rochester a first-class stadium with new turf. He and city attorney Brian Curran said that negotiations are under way to make sure that the women’s soccer team, the Western New York Flash, can continue to play its home games at Sahlen’s Stadium.

Also last night, City Council agreed 9-0 to buy body-worn cameras for the Rochester Police Department from MES Lawmen in Maryland. The firm will also provide system software and consultation services.

Council members questioned whether the firm is equipped to handle a city of Rochester’s size. Police Chief Mike Ciminelli said that while Rochester is one of the company’s larger clients, that he has full confidence in its ability.

Finally, City Council voted to turn over operation of the marina at the Port of Rochester to S-G Marina of Milwaukee. The company will be responsible for promoting, operating, and maintaining the marina, including the marina docks, the city’s public boat launch, the marina boater services facility, and the terminal dock wall.

Construction on the marina, which will have transient and seasonal boating slips, should be completed by May. It is the first step in a planned massive overhaul of the port that includes a hotel and condominiums. Critics say that the project is too big and would forever alter the character of the port area and the Charlotte neighborhood.

The marina project hit a bump in 2014 when it lost its first developer. The Pike Company said that the conditions they found at the site meant that the project couldn’t be developed according to the city’s specifications. Crane-Hogan, of Spencerport, has taken over marina construction.

More by Christine Carrie Fien

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