City cites progress toward goals

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Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo is set to deliver her State of the City address to the Common Council at Mohawk Valley Community College’s Plumley Complex on Tuesday, May 7 at 5 p.m.

The speech is typically a time for mayor’s to outline the major events and initiatives of the past year and look ahead to the major proposals and issues for the year to come.

Here is a look at the mayor’s 2018 State of the City address and the administration’s progress over the past year:

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

“DRI activity will dominate 2018 and 2019,” the mayor said last year. Specifically, she said she “hoped” to demolish the Liberty-George garage and get to work on improvements to the Capitol Theatre, City Hall and Griffo Green, the empty lot at 183 W. Dominick St., and Liberty-James Street parking garage.

The Liberty-George demolition is well underway, and officials have projected a June 21 completion date.

The Capitol restorations — which are not directly administered by the city — are also moving forward. Executive Director Art Pierce has said work will begin on the roof this spring. Interior and facade work will follow, with a public information meeting tenatively scheduled for June.

In March, real estate developer Kearney Group submitted to the city a plan for the West Dominick infill lot. Copper City Lofts, as the project is tentatively named, was described then as “an innovative, mixed-income, mixed-use and artist housing development,” to consist of four floors of 68 units “of which 45 will be targeted and have a preference for those involved in artistic or literary activities.”

Some work at the Liberty-James garage has begun, as well, where workers are “rehabilitating” the walkway leading to City Hall. There are further plans for a facade restoration and for the installation of an automated ticketing system.

Cold Point/Rome Cable site

Cold Point Corp., an air conditioning manufacturer currently on Success Drive, is slated to build a new 50,000 square foot facility on the former Rome Cable site with $900,000 in DRI incentives.

In last year’s address, the mayor said the Cold Point plant would serve as a “catalyst project” in creating a newly revitalized south Rome industrial park.

Progress has been made to that end. In the early months of this year, the city Planning Board and the county Industrial Development Agency approved subdivisions of the site for the Cold Point plant.

Another portion of the Rome Cable property will be remediated and demolished through the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Superfund, the mayor said last week.

Following that, the city will make use of a $1 million state Restore grant to prepare the site for industrial development.

Woodhaven

Last year, Mayor Izzo said the city would issue a “master plan” for development at the former Woodhaven base housing and Wright Park Manor sites.

In September, the Common Council passed the finalized plan, which calls for mixed residential and commercial development on the 100-acre site. The codified plan was meant to act as a roadmap for development and to attract developers.

That appears to be working, according to Community and Economic Development Deputy Director Matt Andrews.

“The city issued a request for expression of interest in January,” he said. “There were several responses to that request for interest. With the YMCA looking to relocate to that site, the Y and a developer who put a proposal in ... are working together along with the city for a cohesive site design and layout to maximize spatial efficiencies, and that’s an ongoing process.”

Rome Turney

The mayor also said that work would begin to remediate the former Rome Turney site, 109 Canal St., to ready the site for development.

After the address, the Council approved the sale of the Turney site to Bowers Development of East Syracuse for $30,000.

“Before the property can actually transfer, the city has a $200,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup grant, so that project is being started here shortly,” Andrews explained.

“The city opened bids on the cleanup project last Friday (April 26), and the city’s moving to award the project in the upcoming month at the Board of Estimate. That project is scheduled to take about two to four weeks to complete.”

He continued: “Once the cleanup’s complete and is signed off by the EPA, the private project (by Bowers) would be able to commence.”

Andrews added that the building will be demolished shortly after the site cleanup.

Public works

“We are busy in the areas of water and sewer,” the mayor said in last year’s address, touting a project to upgrade the solids handling capacity at the wastewater treatment plant and the installation of a mandated UV disinfection facility at the water treatment plant.

The wastewater treatment plant work took place in February, and last month, the Board of Estimate and Contract signed with Chobani to accept the latter’s whey biproduct for a fee, potentially earning the city around $10,000 monthly.

Though officials have said the UV work is on target to meet its May deadline, contract costs continue to rise. The contract with Syracuse firm C.O. Falter was revised for the thirteenth time last month, increasing to $7,551,257.07. That’s up by more than $1.3 million from the original $6,245,101 amount agreed upon in 2015.

“Just recently, we executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the town of Verona to explore the possibility of the city of Rome becoming the sole water supplier to the town of Verona,” the mayor said in last year’s address.

No apparent progress has been made on the issue, with Rome Water and Sewer Superintendent Tony Nash saying this week that the city was “not even close” to a deal with Verona.

Citing complaints by residents regarding the condition of sidewalks, the mayor last year said she would increase the amount of funding available to property owners to address the issue through the Sidewalk Rebate Program. She did so, doubling the rebate to $8 per square foot for qualifying sidewalks and doubling the maximum payouts under the program.

Parks and recreation

The mayor said last year her administration would “begin soon extending the Mohawk River Trail” northward, past East Chestnut Street to Wright Settlement, with “respite areas and signage” along the way.

The trail isn’t built yet, though last month the Common Council passed a resolution naming itself lead agency in determining the trail extension’s environmental impact — signalling work would soon begin.

Izzo also said in last year’s address that the Parks and Recreation Department would add “a full time employee to service the entirety of the Bellamy Harbor Complex assisting with daily maintenance, general groundskeeping and the availability of someone to answer questions of boaters who are dropping anchor in Rome.”

There is now such a position, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Korpela said, adding that the employee spends the winter months overseeing Kennedy Arena.

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