The mass annexation of the Celanese/Riverside community into the city limits is being taken off the table by the Rome Redevelopment committee.
The panel did not take a formal vote Wednesday, but made it clear that they have heard residents of the community who have expressed their opposition to annexation.
Commissioners Randy Quick and Jim Bojo each said that individual residents of the area who may want to annex into the city will be welcomed, but both were strongly opposed to forcing annexation on the community.
Commissioner Wendy Davis, who chairs the Redevelopment Committee, said she wasn’t sure the majority of the community was being represented by those who have been the most vocal in opposition.
“I thought we’ve had a very thoughtful exchange of ideas,” Davis said. “Unfortunately there’s a lot of distrust that goes back to the starting point.”
Davis herself had a rental property on Norwood Street annexed into the city this past Monday night.
“I would like to see us put that community at ease — that the city is not going to come in and do a mass annexation,” Quick said.
Both Quick and Bojo said they were willing to continue conversation with county island communities who are eligible for annexation.
Movement on the River District
The Redevelopment Committee gave City Manager Sammy Rich marching orders to come forward at the March 8 commission meeting with designs concerning the River District renovation and narrowing of the Fifth Avenue Bridge
The concept, as designed by consultant at Goodwin, includes parallel parking on either side of the Fifth Avenue Bridge and a widened sidewalk.
“For me personally I’d rather narrow the streets and add sidewalk cafes and make it more inviting,” said Rich. He said shrinking the bridge down would “completely change the pedestrian experience.”
Downtown Development Director Aundi Lesley said she believes that property owners in the River District just want to see some physical action on some aspect of the proposed improvements to the district.
“I think we’ll have some merchants who are very thrilled,” Lesley said. “Starting somewhere, I think everybody will be happy to see some movement taking place.”
The committee also agreed to advance a proposal by FSRE IMPACT Rome for the redevelopment of a 2-acre lot adjacent to the Courtyard by Marriott Rome Riverwalk hotel.
The Rome News-Tribune will have a full feature on that project in the weekend edition.