Councilors discuss legislation for historic district

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Updates on legislation meant to deem Erie Canal Village property as an “historic district” so that it may reopen as a museum and tourist destination was discussed during Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.

During councilor reports, Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers started comments by thanking Rome Historical Society — RHS Trustee Bobbie O’Brien and Executive Director Arthur L. Simmons III — who “spent a lot of time at ECV last week,” along with owner Rick Rios, of Brea, Calif., who was in town for about a week.

During that time period, RHS helped the city by identifying and categorizing artifacts still on the ECV property to determine what was not only salvageable, but what items had clear title and belonged to the city.

RHS “is an organization with vested interest in preserving history, and they are working with the city to secure artifacts and separate them from others” in the collection, Rogers said. “The mayor is working with Mr. Simmons so we can get artifacts off site and into another building the city owns. So this is an exciting time — we’re finally putting this behind us and we’re finally able to have those artifacts.”

As for a zoning update on the Rome-New London Road property, Rogers said she and Sixth Ward Councilor Riccardo D. Dursi Jr. attended a public information session opened by Rios on July 17 where he shared his plans for the ECV property.

Concerning proposed legislation that would allow the ECV property to reside in an historic district so that it may reopen as a museum, Rogers said, “I am forwarding all of you information on the final draft now,” including a map from Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Matthew Andrews, “that identifies the property description and we’ll get that on the agenda for the next council
meeting,” Rogers said to her fellow councilors.

Rogers said she and city officials went through the zoning change with Rios and that he is aware of what’s “allowed use” for the property.

“He was pleased so we will now be at a point where the artifacts” situation “will be resolved and the zoning, so the only thing standing in the way of ECV being operational again, is to whatever extent Mr. Rios deals with the buildings there with code violations and some other issues,” she said. “But from the city’s perspective, we’ve now done everything we can do to put Mr. Rios in a good position to open the facility, and we would very much like him to do that.”

At previous council meetings, Third Ward Councilor Rogers also mentioned her concerns about an extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act of 2020 that would prohibit 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.

Rogers said draft legislation to address codes issues in the city was presented to Police Chief Kevin C. Beach and Public Safety Commissioner Frank Retrosi Jr. who made “a couple comments on things they thought should be included, and we incorporated those” into the draft proposed legislation, “and now we will send the draft to everybody.”

She said, “We didn’t want to submit this at a time when we were doing virtual meetings and people weren’t participating” in local government. “Then it would be looking as if we were just trying to push through the issues.” This legislation “gives Codes the tools they need to deal with absentee landlords, in particular.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Rome Chapter NAACP President Jacqueline Nelson requested an update on the city’s acquisition of police body cameras. She said during her last attendance of a Common Council meeting on June 23, she also asked councilors if they had any ideas on how to address community members who feel disenfranchised and like they are not truly part of the community. Nelson said she had not received any phone calls, texts or emails from councilors or city officials regarding that issue.

Nelson also mentioned that an expansion to the NAACP’s community focus group to now include representatives of businesses, organizations and community groups, and also includes Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson.

“We had our first meeting on June 20 that went very well, and we look forward to bringing services to the community so people can feel their voices are being heard and that they matter,” she said.

Resolutions unanimously passed by the council:

• Authorizing Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo to apply for a 2021 Consolidated Funding Application in an amount of $75,000 for the Brownfield Opportunity Area West Dominick Street Art Walk Phase II;

• Authorizing the mayor to apply for a 2021 CFA in an amount not to exceed $2,448,000 for the Park Drive State Environmental Facilities Green Innovation Grant Program Woodhaven Complete Streets Project Phase I;

• Authorizing the mayor to apply for a 2021 CFA in an amount not to exceed $58,418 for the Wayfinding Phase II Project, with a local match of at least $19,472;

• Authorizing the mayor to apply for a 2021 CFA in the amount not to exceed $268,750 to fund the Rome Terminal Building Phase 2 Restroom an ADA Upgrades Project at Bellamy Harbor Park.

• Authorization to set up a special account and accept an award of $11,440 for Rome Police Department from the state Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to participate in “Police Traffic Services.”

• Accepting a donation of $1,000 from Cazenovia Equipment Co.

Ordinances unanimously passed:

• Authorizing the mayor to enter into a rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a city-owned parcel at 902 Oakwood St. for $6,000 to Anthony Ayala;

• Authorizing the mayor to enter into a rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of a parcel located at 904 Oakwood St. for $4,000 to Anthony Ayala;

• Authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on Taft Avenue for $1,000 to St. Peter’s Church;

• Authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on New London Road for $1,000 to Anthony Cirrincione.

• Authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on Oswego Road for $1,00 to Jacob R. Rienzo.

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