In an effort to bridge the gap between the UR community and the city of Rochester, Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy spoke in Hoyt Auditorium last Thursday to discuss an array of current local issues. During the Town Hall speech and question-and-answer session, Duffy candidly addressed the city’s present hurdles and discussed its potential to advance in education and safety, economically and environmentally. Duffy spoke of three priorities of his administration – development, public safety and education.

“We have one city in Rochester that is poor and struggling? and this other part of the city is very affluent,” he said.

He compared Rochester to a boxer that has taken some hits in its past. However, he expressed optimism about the potential for change.

“People know Rochester,” he said. “They know University of Rochester and Kodak. There’s a whole underground of companies that are world-class. A lot of these companies have connections.”

The city, according to Duffy, is constantly attempting to recruit and retain businesses to fill vacant or run-down spaces. He referred to the Brooks Landing area and the area by the Genesee River as untapped sources for development. Duffy envisioned a lightened night life in downtown Rochester with more retail stores sometime in the future.

Duffy cited that 65 to 66 percent of Rochester residents read at a sixth- or seventh-grade reading level, and noted the alarmingly high drop-out rate among high school students. However, he described the landmark efforts’ optimism about various programs currently in place and the creation of new education scholarships.

Duffy discussed the sustainable side of the city’s efforts. UR is home to one sustainable building, Goergen Hall, and Rochester also boasts the only gold-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building in New York State. One student brought up the pent-up potential of the alternative energy industry, to which Duffy responded that progress, while slow in developing, is still being made. Duffy acknowledged the logic but also claimed that the Rochester government is spending more money than any other city in the state.

“A majority of the money is labor and job focused, not education focused,” he said. “[The money] is spread too thin.”

Duffy praised the efforts of UR President Joel Seligman.

“President Seligman, I think, has made incredible inroads in knocking down the walls between this institution and the city,” he said.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.

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