Planning Board may discuss Erie Blvd. West project at virtual meeting Tuesday

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Rome Planning Board will hold its next meeting virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, with a State Environmental Quality Review and site plan review planned for discussion for the 1315 Erie Blvd. W. property formerly known as West Rome School.

Due to the COVID-19 closure of Rome City Hall, the Planning Board meeting will be conducted remotely via audio stream using the telephone call-in number and access code.

All members of the public that wish to comment on a particular agenda item should do so in writing to the City Clerk at jgrande@romecitygov.com no later than 24 hours prior to the meeting. All comments received will be read into the public record during the public comment portion of the meeting.

To attend the meeting, the call-in number is 1-408-418-9388; Access Code: 179 972 1421.

On the agenda will be the SEQR and site plan review of a request by Hoffman Development Corp., based in Albany, to construct a 6,400 square-foot car wash building at 1315 Erie Blvd. W.

Also on the agenda will be the SEQR and site plan review by C2C Construction to build a 7,500 square-foot storage building at 122 Otis St.

Rome Historical Society officials have spoken out to say they are proponents of preserving the 1315 Erie Blvd. W. site due to its historical significance for the city. “The Rome Historical Society’s opinion on this specific property is that it certainly has historic significance. We believe its age and context qualify it for the historic register status,” said a statement released by Rome Historical Society. “Using the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, the building is significant as it was designed by Harold G. Rice, a locally prominent architectural engineer and is also within the context of architecture or education (and possibly community planning and development correlating Mr. Rice’s involvement); and, the site has the potential to reveal important information in the field of history or prehistory which is identified in Hoffmann Development’s Planning Board Application originally submitted to the city.”

The statement went on to say that the historical society has put in much effort to communicate with several of the associated stakeholders in the project and advocated for the property to the best of its ability.

“We prefer another resolution for the building rather than demolition. However, sadly, so far, the current owner has not been open to discussing an alternative,” the statement read. “The Rome Historical Society remains a resource to the city and the public in order to further preservation efforts in the community. In this particular instance, no request or attempt to ascertain the history of the structure was made to the Rome Historical Society by the city, state, real estate company or developer. In fact, the state determination of historic eligibility was recently changed from eligible to not eligible. Information contained in that state database still lists an incorrect build date,” which was 1936 for the current building.

It further stated, “During the 20th century, our community suffered immensely from the loss of many of its historic structures in the name of progress. This has caused not only a feeling of personal loss to many in the community, but has also required decades worth of effort to undue the economic devastation that has occurred from such short-sightedness. The few remaining structures of our past are part of our identity as a community and we need to do better at identifying these structures; not letting them fall into disrepair; support property owners and government efforts to preserve; insist on adaptive reuse; and foster a sense of community pride for what remains.”

The statement concluded with Rome Historical Society stating it’s supportive of responsible development within the community, but officials oppose the demolition of the former West Rome School.

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