Floyd County Schools leasing Third Avenue parking deck during weekend graduations, easing some of the angst triggered by the city’s decision to change parking regulations four days before the first commencement.

Floyd County Schools leasing Third Avenue parking deck during weekend graduations, easing some of the angst triggered by the city’s decision to change parking regulations four days before the first commencement.

From Downtown Rome Facebook page on Feb. 8: “Downtown Parking services has some big things happening – all that will better improve your parking experience!”

THE LATEST

Floyd County Schools reserves parking deck for graduation weekend: The Third Avenue deck has been reserved for four county high school graduations on Friday evening, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, by Floyd County Schools. The decision announced Wednesday afternoon eases some of the pressure facing the families and friends of graduating seniors following the city of Rome’s decision to expanding downtown parking restrictions on Monday, May 20, just days before graduation weekend.

Usually a $600 deal, the reserving of the deck has been done by other groups hosting special events at the Forum River Center.

The decision comes after two business owners (and later a third) inquired about leasing the deck to chill part of the tensions raised by the city decision to arbitrarily start 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. parking enforcement Monday through Saturday (6 p.m. had been the cutoff period).

We’re expecting another update or two regarding graduation parking soon.

From Floyd County schools: 

“We believe a graduation ceremony is a joyous occasion where families can come together to celebrate the bittersweet closing of one chapter and the exciting start to a new one for students they love. Floyd County Schools has reserved the Third Avenue Parking Deck in Downtown Rome for Armuchee High, Coosa High, Model High and Pepperell High graduates and their families to use free of charge during the graduation ceremonies Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25. Between each graduation ceremony, the deck will be completely cleared out to make room for the next group. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in helping us do this quickly and efficiently for all to have the opportunity to enjoy the graduation ceremony they are attending.  Thank you!”

Reaction to the move:

From School Board member Chip Hood: “Thanks to our other board members and administration, FCS is trying to do our part to help with parking in downtown Rome on Friday and Saturday for graduation.”


EARLIER TODAY

As of Wednesday morning, there were no changes to note in plans for graduation parking in downtown Rome. The city of Rome remains steadfast in enforcing new parking times (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday) staring the Monday before five high school graduations.

By request, we’ve adding the email addresses of the nine Rome City Commission members lower on this page.

We’re also awaiting final confirmation of some potential relief for the families and parents of the class of 2019.

BACKGROUND:

The city of Rome’s decision to enforce new downtown parking times starting the Monday before high school graduations has erupted into the largest outcry since the city considered limiting free parking on Broad Street to one hour a day.

Approximately a year ago, the one-hour limit was viable and headed to the City Commission for a final vote. The resulting debate was ugly as many of the lingering parking issues were aired, from safety and hygiene concerns within the parking decks to dozens of lights that needed to be replaced in the Third Avenue deck, to a lack of signage directing visitors to parking lots and a problem that probably never will be addressed: business employees still parking in prime spots for shoppers and diners.

So 12 months later, as the second busiest period for downtown parking draws closer (the Christmas parade is no. 1), the city decides May 20 (next Monday) would be the start date for “new enforcement time” of the two-hour free parking rule, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. (it had been 6 p.m.)

Amid the tepid response on social media, the city is digging in, stating “2019 graduation parking will remain the same as in previous years.” Except for that extra two hours of enforcement each night, including graduation Friday and Saturday nights. (See our Fact Check below).

On social media, the city blames software issues for delaying the start of the new enforcement from earlier this month. Critics quickly suggested, “Then delay it until June 1.” No changes, says Patrick Eidson, assistant city manager.

Also posted was a snarky comment about how vehicles must be parked to ensure they’ll be processed by the new license plate recognition vehicle and the two-person crew occupying it (one driving, one scanning).

One surprise we found while checking online for city of Rome parking revenue numbers on Tuesday was this: As early as May 2015, the Downtown Development Authority was discussing the purchase of a license plate reading device, according to meeting minutes. It finally happened four years later.

Who to call: 

We’ve been asked to supply the contact information for those responsible for the May 20 (this coming Monday) rollout decision. The best answer: City commissioners. Below please find the email addresses of each:

We invite you to CC us as well at druck@hometownheadlines.com

 

 

2019 graduation schedule in downtown Rome:

  • Model High School: Graduation: Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at Forum River Center.
  • Rome High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 8:45 a.m. at Barron Stadium.
  • Coosa High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 10 a.m. at Forum River Center.
  • Pepperell High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m at Forum River Center.
  • Armuchee High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at Forum River Center.

Fact check on the downtown Rome post: There is a substantial change from previous years. Parking enforcement has expanded from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Impact:

  • Consider the 7 p.m. Model High graduation on Friday, May 24, or the 6 p.m. Armuchee High graduation on Saturday, May 25.
  • Family or friends arriving for dinner before either event likely would arrive at 5:30 or 4:30 p.m. They’d park in downtown.
  • With ceremonies starting at 7 p.m., the Friday night customers would be in violation at 7:30 p.m. The Saturday customers, 6:30 p.m.
  • In Armuchee’s case on Saturday night, it is doubtful a family could park and be in their seats in time for the 6 p.m. service and then clear the Forum River Center in time to avoid a violation.
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