Labor Day weekend puts us unofficially out of the summer, although technically it's still around for another two weeks (autumn equinox 9/22/17). If you haven't had a chance to take a walk outside and explore our city, do it now before the cold air limits us to the inside.
One place you may want to take note of: the Washington Square Park Neighborhood and its surrounding areas. There are a ton of things currently happening in this small, southern section of Center City, all to revitalize the area and make it more appealing for all. Here are 6 Things You'll Want to Take Note of in the WSP Neighborhood.
1. Neighborhood Banners
Have you noticed the neighborhood banners that line Clinton Ave (near Geva Theatre), surround the Washington Square Park itself, and even down Capron Street and South Ave extension? The banners were produced by a joint effort between the Washington Square Park Community Association (WSPCA), the City's Neighborhood Service Center and Mayor's Office, and Geva Theatre.
Banners give a locale, a sense of place and an identity - they are really a nice way to welcome people to the area.
2. Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Have you ever noticed the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Washington Square Park? This is the central piece in this Frederick Law Olmsted Park that was dedicated in 1892 to those who fought in the Civil War. Years of weather have brought discoloration on the statue figures and the medallions on the base were broken and/or lost.
The City has worked hard this summer to clean up the statues and has even had the medallions replicated and replaced on the statue. Work will continue on into 2018 to clean up and restore the monument to all its full glory.
3. Park Grounds
The City installed brand new picnic tables earlier this summer, they tore out the old, dingy stage that was sitting in the Park, and maintenance crews kept a watchful eye on the landscaping. But more is to come in the years ahead.
In August, the WSPCA was awarded a $15,000 historical preservation grant by the Rochester Area Community Foundation for Pre-Development work to commence. What this means is that the Community Association will begin planning a large-scale project with the Community Design Center of Rochester to restore and reinvigorate the Washington Square Park, with community input, so that the Park, once again, becomes a more useful asset to our area.
Oh, and remember that commissioned, beautiful paint job that Thievin' Stephen did on the traffic box across from Geva Theatre back in 2014? It was wrecked in a car accident this summer and needs a new paint job. Stay tuned, your chance to help is coming.
4. Austrian Cannon
Yes, the elusive cannon that no one knows the whereabouts. Well, we found it, we fixed it (actually, the City fixed in with the help of a professional restorer), and it will once again be put back out into the Washington Square Park soon enough.
Plans are underway for an unveiling and commemoration, all with the help of Park's Commissioner Norman Jones and the Military History Society's Chuck Baylis.
5. M&T Rochester Headquarters: 3 City Center
We're lucky in the neighborhood to have a new tenant and neighbor, M&T Bank, move into the former Frontier building. M&T Bank is investing multiple-millions of dollars with the group, Three City Center Partners, to enhance the building, the surrounding footprint, and the neighborhood. The building itself has been aptly renamed to 3 City Center.
6. Erie Harbor Promenade
Lastly - have you been to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que lately or seen the construction along the river? The making of the Erie Harbor Promenade is in full scale as we speak, which includes enhancements to a walking path along the river just south of Dinosaur's building and a portion that wraps around said building (on the south side) as seen in the above picture.
What this work will do is make a previously obstructed, unused portion of the Genesee River completely accessible to the public. It's a start considering many of us think that the River should be utilized in a much more effective manor to attract residents and visitors to downtown.
This project is the start of a larger project that is said to bring another luxury apartment project to the area by Morgan Management called Court Street Apartments.
For more information and to stay tuned of all the developments happening, check out the newly built website of the Washington Square Park Community Association Inc.
Jason is President of the WSPCA and a resident of the neighborhood.