If city dollars are funding the OPC, elected city officials will have a say in how it's run.
Mary Howarth, who moderated the forum Monday at Rochester City Hall asked the slate of candidates how they'd feel about replacing the existing inter-local agreement governing the OPC with an independent board that doesn't include city council involvement.
"The taxes that get sent over to the OPC, so long as they come from the City of Rochester, the City of Rochester should have governance on the board," Mayor Stuart Bikson said.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Cuthbertson agreed, but said if the OPC forms itself as an independent nonprofit organization without the help of local tax dollars and continues to provide the same level of service, he'd be open to hearing more about a change in how the OPC is governed.
Councilwoman Cathy Daldin and candidates Rob Ray and Ann Peterson agreed, expressing opposition to an independent board without city oversight, at least when tax dollars are involved.
Candidates urge growth while respecting city's rootsThe candidates found plenty of common ground with the issues presented at the forum, including when resident Patricia Kane asked the candidates about how they would help manage the growth of a rapidly developing city without abandoning its small-town character.
Peterson said Rochester has lost some of its "small town, little dime store-like feel," and that the city needs to maintain a fine balance between economic development and maintaining the green space it has.
"I think if we try to consolidate some of the areas we have right now and free up some areas of parking, per se, and turn that into some green space, I think that could bring more of a park-like atmosphere downtown and maybe not make that feel so crowded," she said.
Daldin said the city has master plans coming out for both the parks and city, which define a clear vision of Rochester's future.
"I think the master plan, going through that with the city and the parks, is going to be very important so that we have a good mix and so we can continue to honor our historic preservation and our neighborhoods."
Ray, who serves on the Rochester Historical Commission, said he would support creative business growth in the city and downtown, provided it maintains its accessible, small-town feel.
"Development doesn't just mean building 15-story office spaces," he said. "There are other ways to efficiently use property to develop the area without having a significant impact."
Bikson said a vibrant downtown is vital to the community, and he wants to maintain a good mix of amenities in the area while improving the city's neighborhoods to raise property values.
"I've always thought that a strong downtown is good for our neighborhoods and neighborhoods are good for downtown," he said. "We don't want big skyscrapers downtown. We want to maintain a downtown feel."
Cuthbertson said he believes Rochester can maintain its identity while still supporting growth.
"We need to finish and pass the Historic District ordinance that has been on the drawing board for a number of months and I know that we're getting closer toward that," he said. "So people who want to voluntarily put the properties in can know that for generations to come, those most critical and important assets can be protected."
The election for Rochester City Council, where the five candidates will vie for four seats, will be Tuesday, Nov. 5.