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Slatterly Park residents in Rochester talk DMC

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Slatterly Park area residents have met the past couple Tuesdays to share thoughts and ideas on the $6 billion Destination Medical Center initiative and its possible effects on the downtown neighborhood.

The $6 billion DMC initiative, which aims to draw more patients to Mayo Clinic by sprucing up Rochester's attractions, spans the next 20 years and is anticipated to create 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs. Public infrastructure funding for the project includes $424 million from the state, $128 million from the City of Rochester and $33 million from Olmsted County. That's in addition to $3.5 billion in private investment from Mayo Clinic. In addition, planners hope to attract $2 billion more in other private development.

The Slatterly Park neighborhood is located on the southeastern proposed boundary for the DMC project. On Sept. 23, Mitzi Baker, Rochester-Olmsted County planning director, spoke with Slatterly Park residents about DMC and suggested the residents of the neighborhood meet to share questions or concerns and then share those issues with DMC officials.

On Nov. 4, Slatterly Park resident Karl-Peter Hammer took Baker's advice and facilitated a discussion on DMC.

"We wanted to talk about how the plan will affect the neighborhood as a whole. Everyone has thoughts about the grand scheme and what's being published out there. We wanted to come up with a voice and speak as a neighborhood."

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A week later, Nicole Lehman opened her home for a discussion of the DMC comprehensive plan. With Rochester expected to grow, a comprehensive plan was created to hopefully position the City of Rochester to support changing demographics, housing demand, multi-model transportation needs, growth in jobs and visitors and more.

Lehman said she hopes Slatterly Park neighborhood residents have a say in how the money is spent. The discussion on Nov. 11 revolved around the Slatterly Park's role. Molly Patterson-Lundgren doesn't currently live in Slatterly Park, but she hopes to move there soon. She was surprised by the lack of funds going to social programs.

"It seems like right now they (DMC planners) are more focused on the wow factor," Lehman agreed. "You have to ask yourself if that's what our community wants. We need to find out. Our hope is that we can gather some ideas and share them. ... I hope they listen. We're right on the boundary. We want to have a voice if they're willing to listen. We have been there through this entire process."

Hammer said many residents are concerned that with the expected population growth, developers may want to build large apartment buildings and condominiums in Slatterly Park. He believes massive building will take the charm away from the old neighborhood.

Along with concerns, residents talked about the positive aspects of DMC. Hammer said DMC's goal to make downtown sidewalks easier to walk on and new bike trails are wonderful ideas.

"Right now it's not as easy as it could be for us to walk, to bike from our neighborhood to downtown. Broadway is very busy," Hammer said. "Every knows how tough parking is and there are a lot of cars in downtown already and we would like to help with getting more bikes (routes). Good things going in our neighborhood and we think they could work well in the city."

Slatterly Park neighborhood residents as well as anyone else can speak their minds at the newest public forum, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. today at Mayo Civic Center.

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