With no funding available for demolition, the owner of the former Rome Cable building that was burned out at the end of November last year has only been able to secure the site.
On Nov. 28, 2011, a fire ripped through the building near the center of the former industrial complex that runs along the south side of Erie Boulevard West.
The site has been secured, noted Mary Bonney, vice president of marketing and communication for Mohawk Valley EDGE, the administrative support for Rome Community Brownfields, which owns the building. An application to the state’s Economic Transformation Fund for money to tear down the building, she said, was unsuccessful. A second application will be submitted, she added.
Police charged James R. Smith, age 17 at the time, a South Jay Street resident, with a felony third-degree arson charge related to the fire. He has since been indicted and will appear in County Court on May 1. In a statement to Rome detectives at the time, Smith said he went into the vacant building and just decided to light a box of paper on fire with a lighter. Smith did not explain his motives in his statement to police.
The flames were ignited in a storage area on a catwalk over the mill floor of the two-story building on Henry Street. Fire officials said paperwork and old files were burning. The building sustained a partial roof collapse during an hour-long fire fight.
The building has been scheduled for demolition for some time before the fire, Bonney noted. Until there is money to do the work, the building remains standing.
City Code Enforcement chief Mark Domenico said he is waiting for the owner’s grant request to be resolved. The city does not have funds available to do the demolition and then seek State Supreme Court permission to charge the owner, he said, as is the process in some cases where work is slow to be done.
"We’ve got to find the money," said Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. "I’d love to tear it down tomorrow, but until we find the money, it’s not going to happen." He said that in the mean time the key is to "keep it secure." That, he said, is being done by the owner and police, with help from neighbors both residential and commercial reporting if anyone is on the site.