Saturday, December 1, 2012

This Month in Rochester History

Fifty years ago this month the citizens of the village of Rochester were debating the subject of cityhood. A community forum was held at the old Central Junior High School (now Rochester Community Schools administration building) to discuss a proposal to incorporate Rochester as a city and extend its borders northward to Tienken Road and eastward to Dequindre Road.  The resulting city would have covered an area of 4.8 square miles.

The Avon Township Board of Trustees opposed the plan because it annexed the land of its third-largest taxpayer, the Parkdale Farms campus of Parke-Davis and Company.  Parke-Davis officials announced that they, too, were "violently opposed" to being part of the new proposed city of Rochester, because the plan would hamper the company's plans to expand at Parkdale.

The Rochester Clarion reported that the community debate was very civil in tone, despite high emotions on both sides of the question.  When voters went to the polls a few weeks later, they defeated the cityhood proposal by a 4 to 1 margin.  Only three years later, a cityhood proposal which preserved the existing village boundaries passed successfully, and Rochester became a city in February 1967.

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