Councilor urges end of eviction moratorium

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A plea for state legislators to suspend the no eviction moratorium established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was discussed by city officials during the July 14 Common Council meeting.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had signed an extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act. The legislation extends protections prohibiting residential and commercial evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic until Aug. 31.

The legislation was intended to protect tenants and homeowners from the economic hardship incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic at a critical time in the pandemic’s trajectory as the state begins to lift restrictions on public gatherings and businesses, according to the governor’s office.

Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers said during her second in-person ward meeting since the lifting of COVID restrictions that prior Monday, a local resident was “almost in tears” when discussing the vandalism and criminal behavior occurring outside her residence.

“I hope our state legislators do not extend the no eviction moratorium,” said Rogers. “I understand it was meant to protect people who didn’t have an income” due to layoffs or loss of jobs/wages during the pandemic, “and I’m sure it was done with noble intent, but we’re seeing significant problems when it comes to nuisance and the police department.”

Rogers explained that the woman who spoke at the ward meeting complained she cannot go outside her home because neighborhood youths have torn off the roof on her porch and there have been shots fired in the area, as well as drug dealing.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” Rogers said.

“While I understand that the intent of the law initially was to protect people with loss of income, I think there was a real failure in how the policy was dealt with, to begin with, and how to claim hardship. There’s no checks and balances on it, so I do hope…with the emergency lifted, it’s time to get back to business,” the Third Ward councilor added.

While the city has worked hard at creating neighborhoods that are enjoyable and safe to live in, “I think we’re losing ground,” she added.

During councilor reports, Rogers also gave an update on how the Economic Development Committee had recently met by phone to discuss possible grant opportunities with plans for legislation on potential projects to appear on the agenda for the July 28 Common Council meeting.

Fourth Ward Councilor Ramona L. Smith reminded councilors and those in attendance of the Project Fibonacci Foundation, Inc.-sponsored Community Clue Quest taking place now through Aug. 28, in conjunction with the Rome Art and Community Center Summer Concert Series.

The Community Clue Quest is a scavenger hunt contest open to community members of all ages. Contestants complete simple tasks to earn points toward prizes, all while supporting local businesses and the arts. The tasks include scanning QR codes located at “QR Zones,” bonus points for making a purchase at participating businesses, solving weekly riddles on social media to reveal “Secret Locations,” and by attending a summer concert at the RACC.

We’ve heard from residents “there’s nothing going on downtown, and some aren’t even aware of some businesses that have already been there for a few years,” said Smith. “So we thought the scavenger hunt was a way to have fun and learn a little more about our community.”

She said $60 certificates and gift cards have been purchased from area businesses participating to give away as prizes.

In other business, the following resolutions and ordinances were unanimously approved by the Common Council:

• Resolution 56: Accepting a donation presented to the city by the Edwin Wadas Foundation for $5,150 to fund four summer recreation programs: Vitality Wellness, Tennis, Basketball and Soccer Clinic.

• Resolution 57: Accepting a donation from Lake Delta Kiwanis of 300 teddy bears for the Rome Police Department.

• Ordinance 9446: Authorizing the city clerk to waive the Rome Code of Ordinances in regard to the sale of surplus bicycles pertaining to lost or abandoned bicycles in the city. According to the police department, there are about 18 bicycles in storage.

• Ordinance 9447: Authorizing Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on Taft Avenue in the amount of $600 to Irene J. Provencher.

• Ordinance 9448: Authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel at 509-11 Floyd Ave. to Amedeo and Heidi Libertella in the amount of $2,000.

• Ordinance 9449: Authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of city-owned parcel at 308 Kossuth St. to Varflex Corporation for $1,000.

• Ordinance 9450: Authorizing the mayor to enter into a rehabilitation agreement and approving the sale of a city-owned parcel located at 502-504 Wellesley Road for $5,000.

• Ordinance 9451: Authorizing the mayor to enter into rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a city-owned parcel located at 618 Floyd Ave. for $6,000.

• Ordinance 9452: Authorizing the mayor to enter into rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a city-owned parcel at 4 Terrace Court for $18,481.

• Ordinance 9453: Authorizing the mayor to enter into rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a city-owned parcel at 803 East Ave. for $12,000.

• Ordinance 9454: Authorizing the mayor to enter into rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a city-owned parcel at 903 N. Madison St. for $8,250.

• Ordinance 9455: Authorizing the closing of North James Street from Liberty Street to Erie Boulevard West and West Dominick Street from North James Street to the Berkshire Bank parking lot for the Honor America Days celebration Saturday, July 31 from 4-10:40 p.m.

• Ordinance 9456: Authorizing the placement of no-parking signs on Camp Street, directly opposite the AmCare garage doors.

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