By STEVE JONES Staff writer

The city’s Little Italy Business District on East Dominick Street will soon be the site of $459,000 in green infrastructure improvements. The Common Council Wednesday approved using grant money from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council for the Mohawk Valley to make the area more accessible to pedestrians and better able to handle storm water.

The seven-member council unanimously approved use of the Environmental Facilities Corp. funding to "create a living streetscape system that will enhance the aesthetics and pedestrian safety of the City of Rome’s Little Italy Business District on East Dominick Street," as the legislation states.

The city will expand the pedestrian greenway, add bio-retention areas "to ease the aging and overburdened stormwater infrastructure" and install a pedestrian and bicycle pathway.

Rome’s part in this will be to contribute at least 10 percent matching funds — $45,900. The mayor can increase the match by using in kind services. The matching funds will come from funding obtained by the city from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Christian Mercurio of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development said. The matching funds are part of the city’s 2012 CDBG budget.

The storm water management system is being designed now, and due to be completed by June 1, said Mercurio. The city will be seeking residents’ input on the project in the future, he noted.

More purchases made by City Hall will be made at local businesses now that the council has given its approval to new regulations.

The council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a change to the purchasing policy. Affected will be purchases made when costs are below the thresholds for using the bid process. Bids are required for product purchases over $20,000 or public works projects over $35,000. In cases where the cost is below those thresholds, the purchasing agent seeks quotes from vendors. The change allows the purchasing agent to choose a vendor from Rome if that vendor’s price is within 10 percent of the lowest quote.

"It will help businesses sell a little bit more," said Councilor Ramona L. Smith, D-4, at a work session on the legislation before the meeting Wednesday.

The legislation was meant to increase sales tax revenue received by the city, support local businesses and facilitates job retention.

The change was not the only topic the council discussed regarding purchasing. At the work session, Purchasing Agent Donna Piekarski told the councilors that she wants to update and improve the purchasing manual. One goal is to address holes in the process encountered when purchases must be adjusted due to project change orders. Another is to improve accounting concerning city vehicle fuel stores.

The lone rehabilitation agreement on the agenda was approved unanimously. The property at 112 Kossuth St., taken by the city for non-payment of taxes, will be sold to Eric and Candance Westcott for $500. The two-family residence is assessed for $23,900, according to city records.