Rome’s Common Council voted unanimously Wednesday to use almost $3.5 million in American Restoration Plan Act (ARPA) funding to demolish the James Street Parking Garage and replace it with a surface lot with greenspace.
Using ARPA funds to demolish the parking garage was one of the ideas talked about in March by the Common Council’s ARPA Committee, a group established to help influence where the city will spend the almost $25 million in ARPA funding it received earlier this year.
The ARPA funding will be added to the $1,046,000 in Downtown Revitalization Funding (DRI) the city already has allocated for the demolition of the garage. This brings the project’s total to $4.5 million.
At the March ARPA Committee meeting, there were three possible scenarios for ARPA funding use:
- Fixing the garage, which would have a roughly $8 million price tag.
- Demolishing the garage and keeping a ground level only parking area, which would cost about $1.2 million.
- Tearing down the garage and installing a single-floor garage, which would cost around $8 million.
Rome Common Council President Stephanie Viscelli said the city chose to demolish the current garage and provide a surface parking area, with green space.
“The cost of demolition and resurfacing was significantly lower in cost than repair or replacement, which could each cost upwards of $10 million, with repairs resulting in approximately a 15-year use and a new garage with a 50-year use,” Viscelli said. “A parking study indicated that our current parking is underused, and even with a surface only lot we will have sufficient parking downtown even during peak hours.”
Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo agreed with using the combination of the DRI and ARPA funding to demolish the parking garage.
She said the garage had been thoroughly evaluated by structural engineers and architects that determined even major repairs would only give the garage about another decade of life.
It is in the city’s best interest to demolish the structure and go with the surface lot, Izzo said.
“The garage was identified as a DRI priority project and as such the city is required to provide gap funding to the DRI award to complete the project,” Izzo said. “Fortunately, American Rescue Plan (ARPA) monies are available and the cost to our taxpayers will be zero, while fulfilling the city’s obligation to provide the best and highest use parking facility for those working and visiting downtown.”
Possible city hall spending
The city also has talked about spending ARPA money on renovations to city hall. This was another main topic during the ARPA Committee’s March meeting.
Like the parking garage, the city also is already utilizing DRI funding for the project.
As described in the DRI, city hall needs replacement windows, has leaks, roof issues and electric and ventilation problems. There also was discussion of including a public area in city hall that would allow residents access to parts of the building when it was closed.
Though not yet finalized, a possible price tag for city hall renovations ARPA funding was quoted at $1.8 million, as of March.
Viscelli said the city has not yet made a decision on utilizing ARPA funding for city hall rehabilitation.
Izzo said city hall is nearly 50 years old and has many deficiencies.
The possible use of ARPA money would help allow for the needed renovations, with no cost to the taxpayer.
“Looking ahead to the next 50 years, the building requires substantial renovation,” Izzo said. “We are working through these issues with our consultant team of architects and engineers to arrive at the best possible solution to fortify the building for the next 50 years.”
Already known spending
The city already has spent approximately $2 million in ARPA funding to support the Rome Fire Department with the purchase of a new 100-foot tower truck and replacement of Engine 1.
On March 9, the Common Council passed a resolution allowing 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 plan of the new water infrastructure at the Woodhaven site.
Overall, the city plans on utilizing almost $4 million in total in ARPA funding for various infrastructure work in the Woodhaven housing area on Park Drive.