Izzo, committee propose using $4M from feds to redevelop Woodhaven

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Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and the Common Council’s American Rescue Plan Act Committee have proposed to allocate $4 million in ARPA funding to support redevelopment of the former Woodhaven housing area on Park Drive.

The mayor, along with members of the committee including Common Council President Stephanie Viscelli, First Ward Councilor John M. Sparace and Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers, purpose to use the $4 million toward upgrading the water main and services, repair storm sewer and sanitary systems and reconstruct the disturbed road surfaces.

Woodhaven water system improvements, including design and installation, will total approximately $3.1 million, and Woodhaven road reconstruction totals around $755,000. The city is targeting to bid the water service contract this month, and this summer to bid for the road reconstruction.

The city estimates the 20-year return from water and sewer fees combined with property taxes will be plus-or-minus $10 million annually.

“It has been a long time coming to fully integrate the former Woodhaven housing area into a fully functional neighborhood bolstering the Floyd Avenue development corridor,” said Mayor Izzo. “Woodhaven Ventures, LLC has committed to building 255 single-family housing units, the largest single-family housing project in the county, over the next 15 years. First phase construction has already begun along Park Drive and new houses will be ready for occupancy in the late spring/early summer 2022.”

The mayor said the infrastructure investments being proposed are what the federal government had planned for communities around the country to utilize ARPA funds.

“The funding is meant to make a difference in cities, and in our case, the city has the opportunity to not only invest in our water, sewer and road systems, but to realize a return on our investment through property tax revenue and additional users to our water and sewer systems,” said Izzo. “This ARPA funded project is a win-win for everyone.”

Rome was awarded almost $25 million in federal ARPA funds and the first project funded was the purchase of a new 100-foot tower fire truck and replacement of Engine 1 for approximately $2 million, supporting Rome Fire Department.

The mayor and council have agreed that initiatives funded with ARPA should have a long-term effect in growing the city’s residential tax base, improving the city’s water and sewer systems and increasing the potential to add new users to those systems as well as addressing general infrastructure improvements and other community enhancements.

Third Ward Councilor Rogers said the ARPA committee has thoroughly reviewed the Woodhaven project with the administration and fully supports the funding initiative.

“The project will have a significant and lasting impact on the City of Rome for many years to come and it is the perfect example of how to best utilize the ARPA funding,” said Rogers. “The financial return on this redevelopment investment is unparalleled as we capitalize on a rare opportunity to transform 100 acres of blighted and abandoned property into a thriving neighborhood in the middle of our city.”

First Ward Councilor Sparace said residents of the area have been subjected to blighted conditions for too many years, as well as public safety concerns.

“It has taken a concentrated planning effort based on public input to develop an ambitious revitalization plan that includes a new neighborhood filled with much-needed housing and future economic development opportunities,” Sparace said. “By utilizing the ARPA funding for this project, we will be able to bring that vision to reality.”

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