Building’s history drives discussion

Historian urges city Planning Board to switch gears on plan to tear down former school

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The plan for the site of a former animal hospital and school was discussed at the city planning board’s recent meeting — with concerns being raised about the community losing a building with rich local significance.

Last week, the board members discussed the State Environmental Quality Review (also known as a SEQR) and site plan review regarding the construction of a 6,400 square foot car wash at 1315 Erie Blvd W.

The site is the former Greystone animal hospital and originally, the building was the West Rome School.

The limestone building was erected in 1936 and would be demolished according to the Hoffman Car Wash plan, according to historic records and city documents.

The building had been a school up until the 1970s when it was closed and became a real estate office and later a veterinary hospital.

“It has so much history,” said Rome Historical Society President Bobbie O’Brien.

According to city documents, Albany-based Hoffman Development Corp. is proposing to construct a 6,400 square foot car wash building on 1.93 acres. The project includes three queuing lanes, single entrance and exit drives, 13 vacuum parking spaces and seven employee parking spaces. Site utilities include public sewer and water with onsite stormwater management.

Issues at the city meeting regarding the plan included a lack of a fire lane. Hoffman representatives said training could be had with the first responder community to devise plans to access all portions of the property in the event of an emergency.

The Rome Fire Department still needs to review the design and make comments, city officials said.

Public comments read into the record during the meeting note the building’s history and asked for the project to be rethought.

A comment from O’Brien asked for the project to be tabled in order for time to dig up the history of the building.

In the comment, O’Brien noted that there were other available spots for the project to flourish in Rome without having to demolish a building that may be of historic significance.

Action on this project was also tabled as the SEQR and a history search of the property from the state is not complete.

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