Rochester City Beautiful Commission sets their sights on improving accessibility at the Community Garden

The Rochester City Beautiful Commission (CBC) recently celebrated their third year since being reestablished by City Council in the fall of 2010.

The reactivated commission has a lot to be excited about in their current year. The first is the newly added ADA accessible driveway at the Community Garden.

“Anyone who has participated in the Community garden for the last few years can 20140318 - Press Release Photo - Community Gardenattest to the challenge of carrying flats of plants or wheelbarrow loads of compost up the hill from the parking lot to the garden entrance. While we enjoy promoting the physical activity you can get from our hill, sometimes it created an obstacle for some of our older gardeners and even made access impossible for gardeners with certain physical disabilities. The City felt very strongly that our garden should be open to all City residents… so the garden access road has now been paved and extended to provide a place to drop off materials and supplies at the garden gate. There will be handicap parking available for those who cannot make the “climb” up our hill, “said Sue Neal, committee member and Director of Dinosaur Hill.

To further provide for full inclusion in the community gardening experience, there will be two fully wheelchair accessible raised beds (for a total of four garden plots) built in the garden this spring. These plots will be specially designed to allow wheelchair users to reach in to their garden plot to tend their plants. Because the beds are much higher off the ground than traditional plots we expect that they will also be valuable for accommodating gardeners who have back pain or have trouble bending. The community garden experience has something to offer everyone in our community…of all ages and of all abilities. We are very proud of these recent improvements to our garden and look forward to meeting many new friends in the garden this summer.

New this year, the Green City Committee and the Non-motorized Transportation Task Force are two groups currently working to improve the sustainability of Rochester. Becoming a more sustainable community is an important, long-term goal for any community. Improving sustainability makes economic sense and often improves the standard of living of residents. The Green City Committee provided a series of educational programs during the Rochester Farmers Market in the fall of 2014. One of these programs encouraged individuals and families to consider biking to the Farmers Market. This program generated so much interest and enthusiasm that the Committee formed a spin-off committee to specifically target the sustainability initiative. The Non-motorized Transportation Committee was formed as part of Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve and immediately went to work.

They held an informational open house in cooperation with regional planners and reached out to the cycling community. Most recently, the Committee worked with the City Council to pass a complete streets resolution.

The resolution calls on City officials to consider the needs of all road users as they embark on new infrastructure projects or improvements to existing infrastructure. With proximity to three regional rail-to-trail networks, Rochester is uniquely positioned to encourage activities like cycling and walking for economic, environmental and health benefits. The Non-motorized Transportation Committee looks forward to being a strong partner with the City and regional community on this important project.

CBC is also looking for volunteers for 2014 Make-A-Difference Day. This year’s project is “Mulch-a-Palooza.” Please come out and help spreading mulch, pulling weeds and painting benches in the City Municipal Park. Individuals and families are welcome (over the age of 15, please).

Please dress for garden work and bring your work gloves. The event will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 10:00am-1:00pm and will take place in the Rochester Municipal Park. Volunteers will check in at the Kiwanis Pavilion at 10 a.m. (over the bridge, past the pond, facing City Hall). If you are interested in volunteering, please email Lynn at with your name along with the number of volunteers. For questions please contact Lynn at (248) 652-2765.

The CBC, which consists of Chair Lynn Marie Oates, Vice Chair Ethel Stepnitz, Secretary Mark Panter and members Mary Antenucci, Eric Bothwell

Linda Glisman, David Lowell, Sue Neal, and Ann Peterson as well as the City Council Liaison Mayor Jeff Cuthbertson, is a group of enthusiastic, creative, earth-loving dedicated volunteers who want to work to preserve the beauty of their city and give back to the place they all call home.

To learn more about the City Beautiful Commission and their projects please visit or visit them on facebook at Rochester City Beautiful Commission. Additionally, the City Beautiful Commission produces this newsletter quarterly to highlight the projects the Commission is involved in. Interested individuals can sign up to receive the newsletter via email by emailing and including “newsletter” in the subject line.

About Sarah Hovis

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