Common Council approves trio of grant applications

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The Common Council authorized three state Consolidated Funding Applications at its meeting Wednesday: a pedestrian way finding project, the terminal building at Bellamy Harbor Park and the Waterfront Village project.

The first application will be for $112,500 for a $300,000 project for the phase one pedestrian way finding implementation project. The grant would require the city to contribute $37,500. The city also has $150,000 in state Downtown Revitalization Initiative money for the project as well.

The project will include mile markers on the Mohawk Trail, signs along the Mohawk and Canalway Trail, large pedestrian kiosks, downtown vehicular signs, downtown pedestrian signs, downtown kiosks and downtown parking signs.

Another application is for $228,750 for the Rome Terminal Building phase two. The $305,000 project would require the city to contribute $76,250.

There will be two ADA accessible restrooms, summer park attendant space, ADA accessible entrance deck, lighting and landscaping.

The third CFA will be for $502,000 for the first phase of the Waterfront Village project. The grant would require the city to contribute $56,000. The total project cost is $590,589. The developer that is tearing down the former DeWitt Clinton School and building an apartment complex on Ann Street, DePaul Properties, is contributing $32,589.

The project includes a fortified bulkhead overlook, fishing access, seating and shade trees, way finding and historical signage.

Two members of the public spoke during the meeting.

Ralph Smaldon asked for updates on the city’s northwest water expansion and the possibility of selling water to the Town of Verona.

Phases one and two of the Rome expansion project are done, adding about 190 services. The third and final phase is primarily for a water tower to boost pressure and would only add about 50 customers. The city is still designing the phase, and some of the costs would be offset if Verona is included in the project. The total cost of the three phases could be $18-21 million.

In February, the council approved a memorandum of understanding for the city to study a deal with Verona. Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said Thursday that Verona is planning the project. “We will probably resume some talks with them as far as where we fit,” she said. Then the city and town create an inter-municipal agreement that will include dollar figures for both what the town would pay for the infrastructure and the rate to purchase water. That agreement would have to be approved by the council, the city’s Board of Estimate and Contract and the Verona Town Board. It would likely wind up in front of the council in the late fall with the intent to get a deal in place before the end of the year, she said.

Leigh Loughran spoke about the council’s lack of united response to the literature left in the yards of some Town of Lee residents in mid-June recruiting for the Ku Klux Klan. She read reactions from state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome; Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-119, Utica; and County Executive Anthony J. Picente; all issued almost immediately after the incident.

She also reacted to comments by Council President Stephanie Viscelli at the June 27 meeting, especially about a vigil she was involved in planning. “Safety concerns were addressed in advance of the vigil,” she said, and “proper permits were obtained to hold the vigil at City Hall.” The police were informed in advance and provided a presence, she said. The vigil was organized four days in advance, originally on social media but appeared in multiple newspapers as well.

At the June 27 meeting, Viscelli said the council did not respond for several reasons. That night she said, “It’s awful to me that there are people who abuse children. It is appalling to me that there is domestic violence in our city. It’s appalling to me that people sell drugs to our kids.” The council doesn’t make statements against those situations or legislate against them, she said.

To that, Loughran reacted Wednesday: “While it is, in fact, awful that people abuse children, that there is domestic violence and that people sell drugs to children, the council does not need to legislate these things as there are already laws to address them. Hate speech is free speech, but just because it is legal, does not make it acceptable and therefore warrants denouncement.”

Later in the meeting, Viscelli and Councilor Riccardo D. Dursi, R-6, noted that a police investigation indicated that six such flyers were distributed and that the investigation is still ongoing.

Councilor Ramona L. Smith, D-4, has submitted legislation as a unified reaction by the council on the subject. The statement, which will likely appear on the council’s July 25 agenda, celebrates diversity and inclusivity, rejects prejudices and encourages Rome to be a city where everyone feels safe, valued and welcomed.

Other council actions:

  • Approval of bonding for $2.3 million of additional funding for water supply and distribution system improvements for repairs to the ultraviolet disinfection system. The funding will come from a grant but the council must authorize the expense.
  • Approval to sell the former Rome Turney site at 109 Canal St. to Bowers Development for $30,000. The site is the subject of remediation efforts that include use of grant and private funds. The city is using a $200,000 federal grant for site preparation before it sells the parcel, but can administer a $500,000 state grant. 
  • Approval of bonding for $60,000 for reconstruction and improvements at the central fire station to include the kitchen, flooring, ceiling and machinery.

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