So what happens with 336 acres to develop in Rome, Floyd County? One of the prime reasons listed for the lack of new economic development has been the lack of industrial sites.
In back-to-back months, the Rome-Floyd Development Authority has spent $6.45 million to buy farm land on U.S. 411 east of Rome and the former regional hospital site with promises to develop those properties for incoming industry. You wrote the check; economic development purchases were included in those recent extra-penny sales taxes that stopped being “special” as opposed to ongoing years ago.
The regional hospital site in West Rome has been mostly vacant for a decade even though a parade of prospects have kicked the collective tires. According to a Rome News-Tribune article, the development authority plans to mostly rid it of excess, aging, potentially environmentally questionable buildings to welcome new tenants. We assume the 195 buildings on property were a drawback from earlier prospect tours? Latest story.
And then the Braden property off U.S. 411 is farmland, some 202 acres with access to U.S. 411 and a caveat about whatever the perpetually stalled 411 Connector is called this year. Original story.
So what’s your stake in all this? You’ve helped fund a kitty worth more than $11 million over the past eight years — with almost three years left to pay. Here’s how:
- 2013 extra-penny sales tax package included $8 million for ‘Industrial Property for Job Creation.’ The goal: “Fund land and infrastructure improvements for shovel ready sites.”
- 2017 extra-penny sales tax package extension included $3,110,000 for real estate and infrastructure for economic development
That’s more than $11 million with some of that money still coming in (the 2017 tax didn’t start collections until April 2019 so it will continue into early 2024). Some of that money has been spent on varying projects but a bulk of it remained — at least $6.45 million based on property purchases the past two months.
And there could be a wild card in play. County government has been checking site after site to find perhaps a training center for law enforcement or even a better facility to house the court system. Or both. Vacant schools, under-utilized retail spots, even former call centers have been toured with some sort of announcement pending.
Our guess: The genesis of the next extra-penny sales tax extension now brewing will involve dollars being used to purchase and renovate whatever interests them. (And maybe place that ag center?)
So now there’s more inventory to market for potential big fish industrial clients. There’s demolition work to fund and some upkeep costs. We’re pretty sure we’ll see some pitches for spec buildings in the next penny-tax extension as well.
If that doesn’t work? Well, the collective brilliance of some social media scribes offer a suggestion: More tennis courts.
RANT OF THE WEEK:
Pandemic living: Tough love time with the ‘pandemic patriots.’ As our deadliest month of the pandemic continues, you’re seeing little if any leadership. Medical experts wasted 90 minutes of their lives earlier this month to tell local government about a surge in new cases and many more deaths. The result: Hundreds of new cases and dozens of additional deaths. How did city and county government react? They didn’t.
City, county and state government can’t navigate you through the repaving of Shorter Avenue near Redmond Road during the evening rush hour. You expect them to be proactive when it comes to a health crisis that was claiming almost one Northwest Georgian per hour last week? The word “proactive” has no meaning in local government.
The only answer is you. No, not the unvaccinated. That’s a lost cause until they lose a loved one or find themselves gasping for a ECMO machine.
You’re the one who has to make a difference. And it won’t be easy.
- It means whittling our friends list, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. It is the same as that business axiom of surrounding yourself with positive people.
- Govern exactly who gets near you. Whether it be a noncomplying medical assistant, a dentist, a hygienist or a hair dresser — if he or she says no to vaccinations, do you really want them around your face and in your mouth? Ask the hard question — are you fully vaccinated? If they refuse to answer on whatever grounds, that’s fine. That’s their option. Your option, in turn, is to find someone who does worry about your health, too.
- If you’re suspicious of some of the numbers coming from your child’s or grandchild’s school, demand to know more. Most of the “noise” is coming from the “no masks” side; make noise of your own and bring a few friends. (see our COVID on Campus report school system numbers; you’ll be surprised by the disparity in Bartow, Polk and Floyd counties).
- If the store you frequent doesn’t have a mask policy — or refuses to police the notice hanging in the doorway — change stores. Or go with grocery delivery, at home or curbside. Those options continue to expand, and some of them are outside our community. Sorry, but “shop healthy” outweighs “shop local.”
- If a business or restaurant has one of those “we don’t support/endorsement a mask ordinance” signs in the door, make a decision on whether to enter. There are plenty of others out there concerned about the community’s health and not how they voted last November.
- If dining out and your favorite spot doesn’t have ample outdoor/open air seating, chose take out — or go somewhere else. How a new restaurant opens in 2021 without an outdoor dining option is beyond us; COVID is going to be with us for a few years.
- Don’t settle for outdoor events if masks and social distancing aren’t enforced. “Encouraged” means nothing other than a throwaway line in a press release.
Tough times mean “tough love.” Friends, business associates, even some trusted medical contacts aren’t helping. We’ve seen public officials bemoan the pandemic — except when it comes to their particular event and then we hear about “we hope all are vaccinated.” Not likely, especially in Northwest Georgia. We’re barely at a third of our residents being fully vaccinated.
Your health, and your family’s well being, is in your hands. It is time to play “hard ball.”
PEAKS & VALLEYS: The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia.
Peak to Rome City Schools for requiring masks through fall break, Oct. 11-15. As Superintendent Lou Byars told board members, the current mask mandate and safeguards are “helping to decrease the COVID numbers in some of our schools.” And remember, the Rome policies are much stricter (1% vs. 2% infection rate, including students and staff) than those at Floyd County.
Peak to the congregation of Metropolitan United Methodist Church: They presented mostly retiring neighbor Dennis Ratliff of Ratliff auto care with gifts saluting Coastal’s “legacy of excellence.” And the church extended a welcoming hand to the new property owner planning to put a convenience store at Ratliff’s former location.