The city may soon acquire the 305 N. James St. property where Peterson’s Pet Shop burned down in February.
The Common Council will vote on a measure to accept the property as a donation in its meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. To view the agenda, visit romenewyork.com/common-council/.
According to the legislation, there are $10,436 in unpaid taxes on the lot, which the city would waive in exchange for the property.
The city would then work to clean up the lot, where rubble from the fire still sits. Code Enforcement Chief Mark Domenico has noted that officials would need to work with the owners of the former Spresso’s building next door, which was also destroyed in the fire, to “figure out an equitable split in the demo cost,” as the rubble piles from the pair of buildings are indistinguishable.
The city estimates the cost of waiving the taxes and cleaning up the site at $40,000.
It’s unclear what the city intends to do with the property following cleanup. Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo’s office was unavailable for comment this morning.
Councilor Ramona L. Smith, D-4, whose ward covers the 305 N. James St. site, noted that the property was in a “prime location.”
"There is no definitive plan by the City at this time for the property however, there is value in the location," she said in a written statement.
"The land is adjacent to city assets (police and court house) which are land-lock in all directions (there is no room for any expansion that may be needed). The property gives the opportunity for city official to evaluate the possible needs of the police department and courthouse," Smith added
The cause of the February fire could not be determined following an investigation by city fire officials.
“The exact cause cannot be determined due to the extent of the structural damage and collapse,” Capt. Michael H. Liddy has said.
“The fire originated in the pet shop area,” he noted.
According to city records, 305 N. James St. was assessed at $79,800 in 2018, and the property alone (not including the building) was valued at $11,100. The site is owned by A.W. and Edna Peterson.
The council will also vote on a measure to apply for $3.85 million of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding.
The $3.85 million would go toward contractual services for DRI improvements to city-owned sites, including:
- $1.28 million for the planned in-fill structure and programming space at City Hall
- $1.35 million for the “aesthetic and operational improvements” at the Liberty-James parking garage.
- $400,000 for the project to turn Griffo Green at City Hall into a “four-season destination,” including a ice skating rink, a concert stage, and vendor support areas
- $400,000 for the planned Centro transfer station on West Liberty Street
- $150,000 for the “design, fabrication and installation” of wayfinding signage in the city’s downtown.
Councilors will also review a measure to accept a $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, to be used for the West Dominick Street Art Plaza.
The Art Plaza will go on West Dominick Street’s south side, between Madison and George streets, just east of the Sentinel building.
The plaza will commemorate Rome's role as the “great carrying place” between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, a vital portage spot on ancient water routes from Manhattan to the Great Lakes.
Bid advertisements for the project said the plaza will “include the installation of new concrete sidewalks with a granite inlayed map (of the region’s waterways), landscaping, installation of a seat wall, lighting, and site upgrades such as benches.” There will also be a pedestrian stairwell leading to the county building parking lot below.
Another resolution before the council would accept $70,000 in contributions from the county government for the project.
Also on Wednesday night's agenda:
- A measure giving blanket authorization for the use of Kennedy Arena, Pinti Field and City Hall as polling sites in 2019 elections.
- A measure accepting $30,000 from the New York Department of State for the purchase of "holiday light displays" for the city.
- A measure amending the 2019 budget to reflect the anticipated cleanup cost at the former Peterson's Pets.
- A measure accepting a $250 donation from the Rome Fire Department Benevolent Association for the July 12 Outdoor Mario Kart Tournament at the Griffo Green.
- A measure accepting a $1,000 donation from AmeriCU for the "Rome Rides Responsibly" program, which will provide 100 bike helmets for "income eligible" children.
- A resolution determing that the construction of a new sand storage barn will have no negative environmental impact, per state law.