Rome’s Common Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to use nearly $3.5 million in American Restoration Plan Act (ARPA) funding to demolish the James Street parking lot and replace it with surface land with green spaces.
Using ARPA funds to demolish the parking lot was one of the ideas floated in March by the Common Council’s ARPA Committee, a group created to help influence where the city spends the nearly $25 million. dollars of ARPA funding it received earlier this year.
The ARPA funding will be in addition to the $1,046,000 in Downtown Revitalization (DRI) funding the city has already allocated for the demolition of the garage. This brings the project total to $4.5 million.
At the March ARPA committee meeting, there were three possible scenarios for the use of ARPA funding:
- Repair the garage, which would cost around $8 million.
- Demolish the garage and retain a parking area only at ground level, which would cost approximately $1.2 million.
- Demolish the garage and install a one-story garage, which would cost approximately $8 million.
Rome City Council president Stephanie Viscelli said the city opted to demolish the current garage and provide a surface parking area, complete with green space.
“The cost of demolition and resurfacing was significantly less than repair or replacement, which could each cost upwards of $10 million, with repairs resulting in approximately 15 years of use and a new garage with 50 years,” Viscelli said. . “A parking study indicated that our current parking lot is underutilized, and even with only surface land, we will have enough parking spaces downtown, even during peak hours.”
Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo agreed to use the combination of DRI and ARPA funding to demolish the parking lot.
She said the garage was carefully assessed by structural engineers and architects who determined that even major repairs would only give the garage another decade of life.
It’s in the city’s best interest to demolish the structure and go with the surface lot, Izzo said.
“The garage has been identified as a DRI priority project and as such the city is required to provide gap funding at the DRI award to complete the project,” Izzo said. “Fortunately, US bailout (ARPA) funds are available and the cost to our taxpayers will be nil, while fulfilling the city’s obligation to provide the best and most used parking lot for those who work and visit the downtown.”
Possible expenses of the town hall
The city has also talked about spending ARPA money on renovations to City Hall. This was another main topic at the March ARPA committee meeting.
As with the parking lot, the city is also already using DRI funding for the project.
As described in the DRI, City Hall is in need of replacement windows, has leaks, roof issues, and electrical and ventilation issues. There was also talk of including a public area in City Hall that would allow residents access to certain parts of the building when it was closed.
Although not yet finalized, a possible price for ARPA funding for the renovation of City Hall was estimated at $1.8 million in March.
Viscelli said the city has yet to make a decision on whether to use ARPA funding for the City Hall rehabilitation.
Izzo said the town hall is almost 50 years old and has many shortcomings.
The possible use of ARPA money would help provide needed renovations at no cost to the taxpayer.
“Looking ahead to the next 50 years, the building requires substantial renovation,” Izzo said. “We are working on these issues with our consulting team of architects and engineers to come up with the best possible solution to fortify the building for the next 50 years.”
Expenses already known
The city has already spent approximately $2 million in ARPA funding to support the Rome Fire Department with the purchase of a new 100ft tower truck and engine 1 replacement.
On March 9, City Council passed a resolution authorizing the transfer of $343,500 in ARPA funding to a capital account. These funds will be used for the contract with Dodson and Associates to prepare the design and layout of the new water infrastructure at the Woodhaven site.
Overall, the city plans to use nearly $4 million in total ARPA funding for various infrastructure works in the residential Woodhaven neighborhood on Park Drive.