Rome’s improved status as a Tier Three in terms of general economic development status means that when the next federal fiscal year rolls around in October, the local match for Appalachian Regional Commission grants will increase from 30% to 50%.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox told Community Development Services committee members Tuesday that the city has been encouraged to apply for a special grant to assist with improvements in the North Fifth Avenue/West Third Street area before the match goes up.

Fox said the city will apply for a $600,000 grant and will be allowed to use SPLOST funds already earmarked for improvements in what is being dubbed the River District, as the local match.

Fox also told the committee that her office has taken in 19 applications for new affordable housing that is being constructed on Pollock Street and South Broad Street in South Rome, and one of the four homes is already under contract.

Fox said a representative of the ARC actually approached her office with the idea of seeking a grant while the match was significantly reduced.

“We’re talking about the Fifth Avenue Bridge down to West Third Street. We want to improve the sidewalks on both sides of the street. We’ve also talked about as the sidewalk is dug up, possibly replacing a water line,” Fox said. “That section would mimic Broad Street in a lot of ways.”

Work at the intersection of North Fifth and West Third may also include the replacement of traffic signals, taking down a lot of the overhead lines and replacing them with poles similar to those in use on Broad Street.

“It’s not something that would happen this year, but we want to secure the additional funding if we can,” Fox said.

Down in South Rome, the construction of four new homes, thanks to a Department of Community Affairs grant, is speeding along with one of the homes, the one facing South Broad, already under contract. The homes are being sold at cost with the cash from the sales going back into a revolving fund to build more homes. Of the 19 applications her office is reviewing, Fox said that two have been rejected because the applicants exceed household income limits.

The old Poison Ivy bar at 117 Burnett Ferry Road in West Rome is apparently attracting interest from multiple parties now that the old bar is for sale through the Rome-Floyd County Land Bank Authority.

The LBA will review applications to purchase the old bar when it meets June 25.

“Several people have high hopes for that building,” Fox said.

Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful Program Coordinator Emma Wells briefed the committee on plans for a major countywide litter index assessment scheduled for July 22. Wells said volunteers are still needed for the all day event. People can contact her at 706-236-4456 if they’re interested in participating.

Wells also said five businesses have signed on for the revival of the Adopt-a-Mile program to take care of litter on local streets. She said one family group has also committed to the program which has largely been dormant for a number of years.

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