City crime meeting held Thursday morning

Posted at: 02/28/2013 8:11 AM
Updated at: 02/28/2013 7:12 PM
By: Nikki Rudd

How often do you go into downtown Rochester? Do you feel safe when you're there? This might surprise you, but the police chief says downtown is the safest part of the city. But that doesn't mean the area doesn't have issues, and those concerns were addressed at Thursday's downtown stakeholders meeting.

Everyone seems to agree, downtown Rochester has a perception problem. So how do we change that? City officials say it starts with you.

Tony DiCesare said, “There's a lot of things happening downtown. Downtown's good!”

Tony DiCesare was just one of the business owners at the meeting. He also lives downtown.

DiCesare said, “I live on Saint Paul. I also live next to the new bus terminal going in. I have concerns.”

But Mayor Richards says the new transit center being built on Saint Paul Street will transform the downtown area, taking all those buses off main street.

Mayor Richards said, “The place looks like a bus transfer station in the morning and afternoon and that will be gone  when the new transfer station's here and that's going to make a huge difference downtown.”

Police Chief James Sheppard says one of the biggest issues downtown, disorderly students. And DiCesare says the new transit center won't address that issue.

DiCesare said, “We're taking them off Main Street and we're moving them 2 blocks away where I live it just so happens. Why are these kids all just hanging out there?”

Mayor Richards and Chief Sheppard hope to solve that problem by working with the city school district and putting in a police station this summer at the Old Sibley building.
Chief James Sheppard, Rochester Police, said, “I think the key thing is for people not to think it's just a police problem. A lot of these problems are something we have to collaborate on and work together.”

The chief says the bar scene on Saint Paul where DiCesare lives is also an issue something addressed, but still needs a solution.
DiCesare feels his voice was heard and says.

DiCesare said, “I believe in downtown, that's why I built a business downtown - that's why I’m living in downtown.”

The police chief says you can be part of the solution by spreading the word that downtown is a safe place to be.