NEW LOOK AT CITY HALL — This rendering included in the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative planning document shows City Hall with a new expansion of the first floor, which would enclose the area between the main building and the annex where the Code Enforcement Office is located at left. It would also include additional indoor space that could be used by those attending seasonal events at Griffo Green in the foreground. The project will likely be one of those submitted by the city for a portion of its $10 million state grant. (Illustration submitted)

Committee meets to refine plans for $10M downtown initiative

Published Jan 17, 2018 at 4:01pm

Rome’s Local Planning Committee for its $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant met for one of the last times Tuesday, narrowing down the list of projects its will submit to the state for approval.

The city must create a list of priority projects for state approval, including how much the projects will cost and how much of those costs will be funded through the grant.

The $10 million is not a blank check to spend it on whatever the city wants. It is limited to a specific downtown area and the projects must get green lights from the state.

The latest committee meeting included three sets of new data, input about each of the 19 potential projects from Rome Free Academy students, from the public at information meetings and from the committee members.

In the discussion below, some similar projects are listed together. The committee members discussed each of the projects then voted on whether they should be part of the DRI proposal or be sent into the “pipeline” for future planning or funding from sources other than the DRI.

The priorities:

  • Adaptive re-use of space along West Dominick Street’s 200 block for smaller business projects.
  • Arts-based Innovation Hot Spot at the REACH Center.
  • Zion Church historic preservation and community center, a partnership with Rome Main Street Alliance.
  • City Green. The centerpiece would be a 120-by-80-foot outdoor skating rink that would be installed and removed each winter.
  • City Hall enhancement. The upgrades would include a new enclosed entry atrium as well as ADA-compliant facilities.
  • Centro hub. The bus service has relocated from the Liberty George garage to the train station, and this project would add a small downtown hub on West Liberty Street along the sidewalk next to the entrance to the City Hall parking lot.
  • Capitol Theatre upgrades.
  • Liberty-George Parking Garage transformation. Demolition of a 40-year-old parking structure on a two-acre site and private development of apartments.
  • Liberty-James Parking Garage upgrades.
  • Downtown wayfinding signage. How badly is an updated and uniform sign system needed? Councilor Kimberly A. Rogers, R-3, a member of the committee noted: “You’re sending people to the Erie Canal Village that isn’t open.”
  • Public art funding.
  • West Dominick Infill Development. New mixed use development with Erie Boulevard-level parking with new buildings in the area across West Dominick Street from City Hall where there is surface parking now.

The pipeline projects:

  • Free public WiFi downtown. There are two options: limited access intended for visitors to the downtown or widespread access even for residents and businesses as a selling point for living or doing business downtown.
  • Streetscape improvements and trail connectivity at Erie Boulevard and James Street and at Erie and George Street. Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said at the meeting that Rome should instead be able accomplish this through the Brownfield Opportunity Area program.
  • The intersection of Erie and Black River boulevards. There is a $1 million proposal to simplify the traffic patterns as well as an $8 million version that would realign the “spaghetti intersection” with installation of two roundabouts, one to connect the boulevards and another to connect Black River Boulevard and East Dominick Street. Either will have to wait as the city works with the state on a related major sewer line project that will involve digging in the area, the mayor noted.
  • Veterans and Gansevoort Parks. Upgrades for the parks on the 200 block of North James Street.
  • City Center Apartments. The vacant structure at 233-235 W. Dominick St. would be renovated and include upper floor apartment units and a first floor meeting space.

There will be a few more steps before the city submits its list to the state.

There will be a final committee meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the REACH Center, 209 W. Dominick St., as well as a public engagement meeting at 6 the same night at the same location.

To see more, fill out a survey and submit comments visit www.romerises.com.