Officials should let developers finish Old City Hall

Published Dec 22, 2017 at 4:00pm

In regards to the redevelopment of Old City Hall I sincerely believe our local elected officials need to pause to support Yes Development, in regards to the looming Dec. 31 deadline for an issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.  

We, collectively, need to keep in mind that Yes Development is attempting to bring a late 19th Century structure into the 21st Century; they will certainly achieve that objective if left to their mission. Obviously, a daunting task. I had the opportunity, years ago, to visit Old City Hall when it was an ignored relic from the late 1800s, poorly adapted for contemporary use and, I might note, a vacant and dark hulking structure in the core of our community. 

Make no mistake, true visionaries are a very rare commodity on the national landscape, let alone in Rome, NY. Yes Development & Matt Varughese, are that true, rare, visionary presence in our small and struggling community. Please keep in mind that Yes Development has an accomplished and stellar track record in our community. 

Take a ride around our community: the renovations of the former Rome Club (311 North Washington St.); the structures on North James Street (i.e. the former Aquino’s site & adjoining structures), 509 North James St.; and the Pavilion on the grounds of the Rome Art & Community Center (as I understand it; built at cost) are all attributed to the success of Mr. Varughese & Yes Development.

Yes Development paid the City of Rome $25,000 for Old City Hall; paid associated property taxes over the last few years. Revenue the City of Rome previously never collected since 1894. Obviously, Yes Development has a vested interest in bringing this project to full fruition. 

Somehow, I doubt that anyone was looking over Michelangelo’s shoulder when he created his masterpieces; “Are you done yet?” I strongly urge our elected officials to let Yes Development achieve a masterpiece that will be standing for, at least, another century; long after we all have faded away. What is the expression?  “Opportunity comes along once in a lifetime?” This is that opportunity.

— Mike Keelan, Rome