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Update: Preservation Board Says City May Remove Carousel Image

By Staff


mr local carousel racistUpdate 3/3: Rochester’s Preservation Board voted unanimously March 2 to allow the city to remove an image featuring a crude drawing of African-American children on one of the top panels of the carousel at Ontario Beach Park, which many have considered to be racist.

According to officials, they will now decide how to go about removing the 100-year-old image, and seek input from the community regarding the housing of the image in the future.

Update: Rochester’s Preservation Board will review a proposal to replace an image featuring a crude drawing of African-American children on one of the top panels of the carousel at Ontario Beach Park, which many have considered to be racist, on March 2.

The public meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 30 State St.

City leaders have said they will seek community input to decide what should replace the image should they gain the board’s approval to replace it.

In addition, the Take It Down Planning Committee has also invited community members to speak in favor of removing the image at Wednesday’s meeting.

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A group of community activists who protested possible racist imagery on the carousel at Ontario Beach Park has announced the next steps the city said it will take to remove the controversial image.

The Take It Down Planning Committee held its most recent protest earlier this month, during an event featuring Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo at the Hilton Garden Inn, after former county executive Maggie Brooks decided not to have the image removed once the city determined it was the county that had the authority to take it down.

Dinolfo ultimately granted the city the authority to remove the image, which features a crude drawing of African-American children on one of the top panels that could be considered racist, Jan. 15, provided the city obtain approval from the Preservation Board in order to alter the 111-year-old carousel, she said, and, following that, pay for the alteration itself.

“Thank you for your phone call on January 20, 2016 to update us regarding information contained in the attached memo,” Howard Eagle, Take It Down Planning Committee member, wrote in an letter to Mayor Lovely Warren, Jan. 26. “We were pleased to read the city’s agreement, and position, that the “Pickaninny Panel [is] offensive.”

Previously, in a Jan. 19 memo to Mayor Warren, the city’s communications director, James Smith, outlined the city’s plan to remove the image from the carousel, prior to the carousel’s opening for the 2016 season.

“While I had hoped to expedite the process to allow for this matter to be considered at the Preservation Board’s February meeting, the corporation counsel’s office has informed me the public notice provision of the zoning code will not allow for consideration of this matter until the Preservation Board’s meeting on March 2, 2016,” Smith stated in the memo. “At that meeting, we will seek the board’s approval to take us to the next step, and issue a Certificate of Appropriateness. Given that the Preservation Board is an independent entity, we will need to await their action.”

According to Smith, he will work with the city to submit the application by Feb. 1, and also work with the Rochester Museum and Science Center to ultimately house the century-old image in an educational context, as per the mayor’s wishes.

“The final step will be the display of the panel as an exhibit at the museum,” Smith stated.

However, according to Smith’s memo, should the Preservation Board deny the city’s application to remove the panel, city attorneys would have up to 30 days to file an appeal in State Supreme Court.

Eagle said the planning committee has invited the community to speak in favor of removing the image at the Preservation Board’s March meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m., City Hall, 30 State St.

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