Update 19 – May 2021

President’s Message Karen Emerson

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As the weather becomes more pleasant and the COVID restrictions are lessening, there are some exciting things going on in the neighborhood!

This month, May 22-29, Ease on Down is the first event of the season. Charlotte Burch has worked tirelessly with the Thurston Brooks Merchants Association to bring neighbors and our merchants together. This is the 10th year! This is a family friendly event that takes place between Brooks Avenue, Thurston Village and around the corner to Arnett Blvd. The kick off day for this one week long street promotion begins Saturday,  May 22nd at 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. through May 29, 2021.  Per Ms Burch, “We believe that working to build strong relationships between neighbors and businesses that serve the community is an important step in a positive direction in creating and building a community where positive growth happens. “

The next event is being planned by a dedicated group of neighbors. It is a Kahoot trivia night fundraiser for the 19th Ward Community Association. This will be held June 17th and is a one hour event. We are hoping you will join us for a chance to get to know interesting facts about the history of the area and to compete with neighbors old and new. Our next event (think Square Fairesque) is being planned as an outside event. More details to come.

The executive committee continues to work on issues of housing, LGBTQ issues, COVID vaccine distribution,  schools (especially concerning local bussing), consideration of a Boy Scout troop, strategic planning, membership, safety, race and equity, addressing food insecurity and relationships with our university neighbors.  As always, we need your help. Please consider setting aside time to participate in one of the committees working to make the 19th Ward the place that we are invested in making the best place to live.

I also got the chance to visit Andy’s Southern Deli at 934 West Main Street. They have a wonderful selection of meats and real friendly staff.

Remember there is a primary election taking place June 22, 2021. If you are not registered to vote you can do this by mail or in person until May 28, 2021. Information on who is running can be found on the Monroe County Board of Elections site.

Monroe County continues to have high COVID cases and low vaccination rates in our two zip codes of 14611 and 14619. If you have questions about how and where to get a vaccine or test please call 211.

Enjoy the spring!

Karen Emerson, President

Charlotte Burch

Charlotte Burch, TBMA

Charlotte Burch has been engaged with the Rochester community since she was a teenager. “My first job was at 13,” says Burch. “As a small child, I’ve always enjoyed the connection and dialogue.”

Working two or more jobs at a time, Burch held numerous positions until she was 28 years old, at which point she took her last $213 and formed an essential oils business, Sensuous Satiables. She shared a space at Midtown Plaza and began to host events at her house. “I had an unorthodox start but lining up with people who shared my vision helped me continue to grow.”

This experience led her to become President of the Thurston-Brooks Merchants Association in 2002 – a position she still holds today. “I have a feeling of responsibility, and I want to do something valuable with my energy. I want things to be greater than they were the day before.”

Thurston Brooks Merchants Association is a 501c3, a non profit organization, established in 2003, whose main objective is to help bridge community relationships between businesses and neighbors that support the commercial corridor.  

TBMA is now celebrating its 10th annual Street promotion called, ‘Ease on Down’, a family friendly event that takes place between Brooks Avenue, Thurston Village and around the corner to Arnett Blvd. The kick off day for this one week long street promotion is Saturday,  May 22nd at 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

When asked about making Thurston Village a better community, Burch was clear: “Continued outreach, person to person. That cannot be replaced. Second, investing in education; the certificate is important. Lastly, reaching our city’s youth, particularly 16-26-year-olds. Pull them over and get them involved.” 

We believe that working to build strong relationships between neighbors and businesses that serve the community is an important step in a positive direction in creating and building a community where positive growth happens. 

#community #mentoring #entrepreneurs #rochesterbusiness #rochesterny #publicspeaker #education #redco

Around the Neighborhood

In memory of John Laing

(Columbia Funeral Home) After the tragic loss of his wife Kathy King in January 2021, John Laing moved West to be near his children, James and Genevieve. His brief time in the Pacific Northwest was well spent, living with his son and daughter-in-law, helping to cook family meals, appreciating a diverse range of takeout food, playing card games, taking walks in the neighborhood, and enjoying the outdoors.

For over forty years, John Laing was a devoted resident of Rochester, NY, where he set down roots in the 19th Ward neighborhood and enjoyed a successful thirty year career at Xerox. After retiring as a senior vice president, John spent his retirement as a community volunteer. He was active in a number of local initiatives such as school reform, the Cupboard, the distribution of Christmas baskets, Books for Children, and the Backpack Program, as well as organizations such as Community Bikes, Rochester Youth Hockey, the Stewardship Council of Rochester, and SWEM –– all of which have had transformational impacts in the community of Rochester and the 19th Ward neighborhood. John was admired by his fellow 19th ward community members for his kind, steady, and calm presence, and as a man who generously shared his time and talent.

John passed away in Seattle, WA on April 14, 2021. Our condolences to  his family, friends and our community

Community News

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Lavender at Rapids Cemetery

Planting of soothing aromatic perennial lavender at Rapids Cemetery May 2, 2021 by 19th Ward residents. Decorative grasses were planted also to direct visitors to better footing at the entryway to the meditation garden. 

Below: Mark Sweetland, Charlotte and Doug Giebel.

Plot #1: Lavender garden bed at rear of bench located at the top of the amphitheater hill.

Plot #2 near the Hulin graves, Raspberry pathways seen at rear. Hope to get the fence replaced. A 250 foot-long border strip of ground cover with a blue flower has been added this spring along the fence area with room to maneuver for fence installation.

Unique Volunteer Opportunities at Rapids Cemetery

Save the date: Sunday, May 23, 2021 from 1:00-3:00pm will be the second “Garlic Frolic” at Rapids Cemetery. It is an opportunity to gather wild garlic at its peak.  It’s a win-win opportunity to remove the invasive organic garlic that mingles with the border floral  gardens. You can add “take-home’” examples to spice up your culinary tastes using these very “hot” natural examples grown without pesticides. The garlic can be picked by hand. No fertilizers are used at the cemetery.  Dress for muddy conditions. 

It’s that time of year again – MARKET TIME!!!!  

The crew at the Westside Farmers Market is working hard, and quite excited about the plans for summer 2021.  We have new vendors, new (to us) farmers, and plenty of creative ideas coming to the market this year.

  • Our youth will be thrilled with some of the new activities we have planned for them.   HINT:  the Library helped with those plans.
  • We are hoping to bring music back although there won’t be any gathering around the music tent yet. 
  • Community organizations will be welcome to table once again.
  • Tastings will be allowed, with restrictions.
  • We won’t be quite as spread out as we were last year.
  • You will find a larger selection among more vendors.
  • And yes we will continue to keep the contact tracers away

We are ordering a bunch of new lawn signs, so let us know if you want one.  We will happily place it in your lawn at no charge.  If you have one in your garage, plan to pull it out soon and put it in the yard- NOT on the tree line between the sidewalk and the curb; that’s a code violation.

Watch the Westside Farmers Market grow!!!

Oh, and PS – we need volunteers – at the scene, and behind the scenes


More news coming soon!!


New Business in the Neighborhood

More News

Reimagine RTS Information

Reimagine RTS is launching on Monday, May 17. Because of COVID-19, RTS is not able to hold in-person gatherings to help educate customers on the new system. Please help RTS make sure customers are ready for the new system by sharing the following information to help them learn what they need to know before May 17:

  1. Learn your route number: All the route numbers are changing. Use the old route/new route guide to find your new route number. Some customers will need to use a combination of a route and RTS On Demand
  2. Find your schedule: Once you know your new route number(s), go to myRTS.com/preview to view the new schedule
  3. Find your On Demand Zone guide: If you need to use the new on demand service to start or end your trip, or you just want to try this new service, go to myRTS.com/preview to see the guide for your respective On Demand Zone
  4. Download the Transit App: You can see current bus schedules, new bus schedules, and access the RTS Go mobile fare payment tool through the Transit App. Download the Transit app from the App Store or Google Play
  5. April 27th Customer Information Session: We will be holding a virtual information session on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. to help customers understand the system and answer their questions. Click here to access the meeting link
  6. Call Customer Service: If you need help with any of these steps please call 585-288-1700 and work with our customer service team to identify your new route and figure out how to use the new system

Healthi Kids

Since the beginning of Healthi Kids, we have heard that parents and kids want better and healthier food. In neighborhoods, schools, or other places that they go, our kids deserve healthy, high-quality food. All kids should have a chance to develop good eating habits, learn about cooking and gardening, and have healthy and fun food experiences!

We know that we need to change policies and systems so that kids have better food and opportunities. Over the last year, Common Ground Health, Foodlink, and City of Rochester have been working with residents to plan a Rochester Food Policy Council. This council will be a resident-led group that will work with the community to change food policies. Together, these changes will support the health of the environment, ensure every kid has equitable access to foods that support their health, and everyone has opportunities to participate in a vibrant local food economy.

On May 11th, Rochester City Council will vote on the Food Policy Council. This legislation will endorse the plan that residents helped create, commit City staff to participating in the FPC, and direct future City Councils to review the FPC’s recommendations.

This is an opportunity for you to make your voice heard! Together we can create a local food system that promotes health, equity, and justice!

Tell Councilmembers today what you think about the FPC and food in Rochester! There are three ways to speak out before the May 11th vote.

  1. Sign Up to Speak to Council. From 6:30-7:30 PM on May 11th, City Council will hear from the public. This will be done virtually, using Zoom. Call 585-428-7421 or email council@cityofrochester.gov to sign up. More details at this link.
  2. Email City Council. Take action today by sending an e-mail direct to your City Councilmembers by clicking this link, or e-mailing them directly at council@cityofrochester.gov
  3. Call Your Councilmembers. Just dial 585-428-7538 and leave a message for City Council. Make sure you refer to the Food Policy Council, so that the message will be shared before the May 11th vote!

If you have any questions about our work around food policy in Rochester. Please reach out to Mike Bulger, Healthy Communities Project Coordinator at mike.bulger@commongroundhealth.org


Healthi Kids team

Flower City Days Horticultural Sales at City of Rochester Public Market Begin Sunday, May 9

(Friday, April 30, 2021) –The annual Flower City Days will return to the City of Rochester Public Market, 280 N. Union St., on Sunday, May 9. These horticultural sales feature dozens of vendors specializing in bedding plants, shrubs, vegetable plants, cacti, hanging baskets, perennials and annuals, gardening accessories, and much more. Flower City Days will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following days:

Sundays: May 9, 16, 23, 30 and June 6

Memorial Day Weekend: Friday, May 28 and Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day)

Market vendors will be present in the B shed, as well as small businesses throughout the Market District. Expert gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County will also be present to provide gardening advice to shoppers.

The City also offers a “Give and Take” plant container recycling program outside the Market Office. Gardeners can deposit garden pots, flats and containers at the office and take any they may need.

Facial coverings and social distancing at the Market required.

For more information, visit www.cityofrochester.gov/flowercitydays.


FEMA, along with the state of New York, has appointments available in Monroe County and will register eligible individuals on their behalf. These appointments have been blocked off to ensure senior citizens, individuals with limited English proficiency, people with disabilities, individuals who are undocumented , and individuals who are low-income or homeless get vaccinated. Right now, they have slots open every day (7 days a week / 8am – 8p) until May 25th.

Where? Former Kodak Hawkeye Parking Lot 1345 St. Paul Street Rochester, NY 14621 What is needed? • Your Name • Phone number and/or e-mail • Form of Identification What will happen? • Our site is currently accepting walk-ins. A FEMA representative can assist in completing the registration for you on site. We are now only offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is our sincere hope that anyone who wants a shot can get a shot. *Language services may be requested when registering on site.

Committee Information

Reach out to our office manager if you would like to get involved.

Delegates Council

Delegates Council meets virtually on second Thursday of each month at 7pm via Zoom.

Garden Committee

The Garden Committee is seeing spring flowers, once again! Please volunteer if interested!

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee is in search of a new chair. Get in touch!

Housing Committee

The 19th Ward Housing Committee will meet the third Thursday of each month at 1 pm when we are able. Please get in touch with our Office Manager about how we’ll meet during social distancing. Our meetings generally last about an hour. A City representative from Buildings and Code Enforcement attends to work with us on specific properties, concerns/issues, code enforcement, etc. 

Schools Committee

The schools committee is looking for a new Chair. They are continuing to meet and will keep us updated on the good work they’re doing.