Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association

Design Charrette

Neighborhood Plan (Charrette) Implementation

Our UMNA charrette plan continues to move forward. Of course the 800# gorilla in our charrette room is now the Culver Rd Armory site development which is covered in another article. All I will say about the armory is that I am very proud to be in a neighborhood that had the foresight to develop a vision for the site. Now we can work with the City and developers of the site proactively, rather than as a reaction to the plans of others. We, as a neighborhood, now know what we want for this 12-acre neighborhood site and we can deal from a position of relative strength.

But I have been asked to report on implementation of all the other non-armory charrette ideas. On these issues, I must report that we have had mixed success during the past year. We have won an award from the City for our Belmont/Monroe garden (see separate article). But that was for work completed over a year ago (but still nice recognition!). Thanks to the efforts of our Urban Design/Monroe Urban Village committee, we have completed an urban design document for Monroe Avenue with specific recommendations for the 969 Monroe building (large white house at the corner of Shepard & Monroe). We are now scheduling a meeting with the Center for Youth Services (corner of Laburnum & Monroe) to present our urban design guidelines and charrette ideas to them as they move toward an upgrade of the exterior of their building. We, with the help of a Third Presbyterian church group called TREC, have hired a Monroe Avenue “street manager.” While this was not a specific charrette recommendation, the manager does allow us to implement many of our charrette recommendations.

On the other hand, we have had no success with the Culver Road narrowing, with the Culver and the Monroe gateways and I-490 bridge improvements, nor with the New Life Church front yard piazza. I attribute this to a lack of energy and volunteers to work on anything but the armory site (hint, hint, we need you!). And there are many, many other recommendations from the charrette that are too numerous to report here. So you can see we have had mixed success on the non-armory charrette recommendations. Given our neighborhood energy level, we are doing quite well; however, we can always do more. Please come and join us make our great neighborhood an even better place to live.

Charrette Design Guidelines Unveiled

The evening of March 27th, 2008 saw the official unveiling of The Upper Monroe Charrette Design Guidelines created by the Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDC), Commissioned by UMNA, the guidelines’ purpose is to further the Charrette implementation process. Over thirty people witnessed the presentation by Roger Brown of the RRCDC that focused on questions of building appearance and aesthetics and using the design guidelines as a long term tool to improve the physical appearance of Monroe Avenue. Also present was City Council Vice President (and Upper Monroe neighbor) William Pritchard who was impressed with both the results and neighborhood turnout. The meeting also included a discussion of other issues concerning the neighborhood and what we all can do to help. If you are interested in being involved, please see the member form on page 4 of this newsletter. A copy of the Design Guidelines will be soon available at the neighborhood website:

Survey Results Identify Top Five Desired Businesses in Upper Monroe

Many thanks to all our neighbors who completed the Upper Monroe Business Survey, which was included in the Fall 2007 Upper Monroe News. According to survey respondents, we here in Upper Monroe are clamoring most for a coffee shop and a bakery, although a more recent survey might have produced strong votes for a Chinese restaurant and a sub shop, given the recent departure of just such establishments. Survey results have been delivered to Bill Jones, who is working to foster economic development in our neighborhood. The Charrette Implementation Committee has access to the survey for development of their plans as well. And of course we should all remember to support the fine local businesses that are already here. The top five vote-getters were: coffee shop, bakery, restaurant, theater/ performance venue, and park space. Once again, thanks to all who took the time to complete the survey!

Charrette Implementation

Struggles Along As chairperson of the UMNA Charrette Implementation Committee, I can tell you we have been struggling with implementation of the neighborhood charrette recommendations during the past year. 


Charrette Description

Let's start by asking and answering a few questions.

UMNA Charrette

What is UMNA up to?

In addition to the many activities and advocacy efforts that the Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association conducts is our work on neighborhood revitalization. The Design Charrette is an exciting event in support of this effort.

Do you know what UMPC stands for?  

It's the Upper Monroe Planning Collaborative started nearly a year ago by several stakeholders in your community including UMNA. It is now made up of some twenty individuals representing New Life Presbyterian Church and Third Presbyterian Church (over the years Third has invested people resources and money in the Corner Place); several other neighborhood organizations including SEAC and NET; home owners; residents; businesses (including Le Lemon Grass where we held a UMPC benefit dinner); Hillside; the YMCA Monroe Branch; RPL Monroe Branch; and City officials such as Sector 7 president Moira Lemperle, Net Officer Peter Saxe, representatives for City Council President Lois Giess, various departments such as Economic Development, Parks & Recreation and Community Development, and Bill Pritchard (a City Councilman now living in your UMNA).

But enough of who we are, what were we going to do?

Our mission centers on how to revitalize the neighborhood, to make it an "urban village" as described in the City's Renaissance 2010 Plan. The UMPC believed that this was a possible goal.

But how to reach it?

We decided to do what several other City neighborhoods have done (with spectacular results, by the way): hold a charrette.

 You ask, perhaps, what is a charrette?

To quote from a Community's Guide to Planning Design Charrettes: “A charrette is an intensive, participatory process that brings together a variety of community stakeholders to observe and share ideas about their community.” Think of it as an interactive, dynamic brainstorming session to reach a consensus on a vision for the future.

EWW 8/17/04
Rev. JD 8/22/04
Rev. JD 9/15/04

The Vision  See a full description of the Community-Based Vision Plan for the Upper Monroe Neighborhood  -- Requires Adobe® Reader®

There has been progress: 

We constructed a community garden at the corner of Belmont and Monroe using a $2,000 NeighborGood grant from the Rochester Area Foundation.  We discussed state multi-modal funding of the Culver Road narrowing project with Assembly member Susan John’s staff.  David Walsh is leading the Armory Site sub-committee, which is considering actions for the Culver Road Armory site (including a possible $4,000 City grant thanks to City Councilman Bill Pritchard). 

Architectural renderings and cost estimates have been developed for the New Life Presbyterian Church front yard “piazza” thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Genesee Valley Presbytery and Victor Presbyterian church.  A Gateway Sub-committee conducted its own pedestrian counts on the I-490/Monroe Avenue bridge and has had discussions with the City’s bridge engineer.  And the Urban Village/Design Guidelines sub-committee is negotiating an agreement with the Rochester Regional Design Center (RRCDC) for design guidelines for several buildings in the 900 block of Monroe.  As I reflect on the above projects, I see we have indeed been busy in implementing charrette ideas.  But we have much more to do.  Coming up with ideas to improve our neighborhood is the fun part; implementing those ideas is the struggle, but ultimately the most satisfying part. 

We welcome your involvement in keeping this initiative going.  We encourage you to pick a charrette sub-committee (or the over-all Charrette Committee itself) and to help implement UMNA neighborhood improvements in that sub-area.  Without this involvement, all our work with the charrette may be lost.  Please give us a hand.