Rome needs a city historian

Published Dec 16, 2017 at 4:00pm

Why does the city of Rome no longer have an official historian?

According to legislation enacted in 1919, every “city, town or village” in New York state is required to have an official historian. Granted, this was enacted at a time when the powers that be believed in the value of our heritage and the general populous celebrated our history. I believe there’s still so much in this area to be celebrated and valued and the need for a city historian has never been more important. 

The city of Rome is in the beginnning phases of a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The proposal for the DRI references Fort Stanwix and tourism in several places. In one section it talks about the DRI aligning with the comprehensive master plan adopted in 2004.

Included in this plan was an expansion of tourism marketing efforts that build on the historic, recreational, cultural and natural resources of the area. So-called heritage tourism has seen an expansion in recent years in many parts of this country and Rome has history to spare.

I would love to see the DRI build upon the immense histroy here and make it a focal point for development and revitalization. I fear though, without a city historian to guide these efforts, a lot of valuable history is not being recognized.

Case in point, the current situation with the access road into the Fort Bull site. A few weeks ago, the city went in and dug up the entrance to the road because of a flooding situation brought on by the failure of the culvert running under the road. I’ve been informed by the city that they have no plans to fix the road now because it is on public property. So this extremely important historic site is no longer accesible to the general public. This is totally unacceptable and, I fear, an indicator of how the city views histroic properties in the area.

The naming of a city historian could be the first step in getting the city to recognize the importance of our local history and from that point, just maybe, they could see the value of shining a light on that history for the rest of the world to see. 

— Tracy Walker, Rome