Residents near the Rochester Public Market received some free home repairs and fixes Friday. More than 100 volunteers covered four streets just outside of the market, fixing fences, planting flowers and painting siding. It was part of the annual SONYMA Spruce Up event, organized by the Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Property Taskforce.
“This is an area of the city that has seen a lot of investment from the City of Rochester, over by the Public Market,” said Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello. He is also the co-chair of the taskforce. “The neighborhood around it though could use a very similar investment and it’s something that directly impacts residents. That’s what today is all about.”
The all-day cleaning event brought crews to the streets and avenues of Haywood, Garson, Peck and Fourth. These are streets located just blocks from the Market and Railroad Street which has seen the most spending since the area’s resurgence.
Bello says cleaning up the homes reduces the vacant home issue in Rochester. The task force went door to door asking each resident what they needed and then drawing a master plan to target as many of those issues as possible.
“There was a lot of garbage in the back,” said Raelyn Allen. She was one of the volunteers and is also Deputy of Housing Grants and Programs at PathStone. “We saw a lot of syringes today but they’re all clean now…one neighbor, whose house was not spruced up today, even came out and thanked us for sprucing up his neighbor's house.”
She says an abandoned home can lower property values of other houses on the same street by as much as $7,000. And on some streets, there are more than just one abandoned house, which can also serve as a magnet for crime.
Bello says the task force chose the neighborhood because of it’s proximity to the market and its need.
"This is an area of the city that has seen a lot of investment from the City of Rochester, over by the Public Market. The neighborhood around it though could use a very similar investment in the neighborhoods and it’s something that directly impacts residents. That’s what today is all about."
The Spruce Up event only happens annually but organizers are also discussing expanding the event for next year.