Rochester Waterfront Revitalization Plan

Rochester, New York
University of Rochester

This HIA conducted by the University of Rochester supplemented the development of the City of Rochester’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) with health-related community engagement, data collection, and analysis. This program will help inform city, private, state, and federal decisions affecting area waterways and shorelines into the next decade. The LWRP will guide land and water use, development, transportation, and management of natural resources in the waterfront area. As a member of the Waterfront Revitalization Advisory Committee—which includes a range of government agencies and community-based organizations—the University of Rochester sought to incorporate health considerations into the plan’s goals, scope, and recommendations. The HIA focused on how the LWRP may affect the health of residents nearby, visitors to the waterfront, and the general population. Pathways explored include opportunities for physical activity and water quality. 

In a survey of users of the Genesse Riverway Trail, the HIA found that 62% of pedestrians and 46% of bicyclists using the trail live within one mile of the waterfront. The HIA found that the city’s existing plans to expand and improve the Genesse Riverway Trail would likely improve health by promoting physical activity. The HIA made several recommendations to maximize positive health impacts including developing an advisory committee for promoting development, maintenance, and use of the trail; prioritizing linkage of bike lanes, trails, and amenities to enhance connectivity of existing and new destinations; and adding amenities including water fountains, restrooms, lighting, additional signage, benches, bicycle racks, and exercise infrastructure to increase safe trail use

The HIA found that beach redevelopment presents significant potential to positively impact opportunities to physical activity. In a survey of current beach users, 91% of Ontario Beach users and 65% of Durand Beach users reported that they would use the beaches more if water quality improved. Survey respondents also reported that the perception of high crime rates at both beaches prevents them from visiting. The HIA recommended several policies, projects, and programs to encourage beach use by a wide range of residents and visitors. Recommendations included improving facilities, such as bathrooms and retail options near the beaches; implementing local projects to improve water quality; and implementing policing, lighting, and other crime prevention efforts to improve perceived and actual crime rates near the beaches.

Changes in stormwater management in the City of Rochester could affect local water quality but there are limits to the magnitude of the impacts because water quality is a function of activities throughout the larger watershed, not just along the Genesse River and Rochester coastal areas. However, the HIA recommended that the city continue to provide incentives to encourage stormwater control measures, such as green roofs and permeable pavement in new construction and enhance clean-up programs to reduce the amount of litter entering waterbodies.

The HIA also recommended that the LWRP incorporate HIA by adding community health to the 2013 LWRP vision statement; adding community health to the 2013 LWRP goals; incorporating community health into the NYS Department of State’s policy guidelines for all LWRPs; and promoting HIA in future city and county decision-making processes.

Stakeholders, such as the Sector 4 Community Development Corporation, Monroe County Department of Public Health, and Rochester Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, expressed strong support for the HIA and actively participated in the process.

At a Glance

Completion Date
2013, May
Built Environment
Organization type
Educational Institution