The Downtown Rome Development Authority hopes to start easing in the first phase of changes to its downtown parking plan sometime early in the Spring. Parking Services Manager Becky Smyth told members of the authority board of directors Thursday that new license plate reader technology and kiosks for the parking decks are on order and should arrive within a couple of months.

Once the LPR technology is in place, parking enforcement downtown will include a change in the hours of enforcement from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Currently, the two-hour parking limit is enforced through 6 p.m.

Smyth said the LPR technology will help generate a lot of data that will be critical to how the city moves forward with future changes to the parking plan, which could include paid parking for premium spaces along Broad Street, but open up the decks to free parking.

When the kiosks are installed in the decks, the first hour will be free with a $1 per hour charge thereafter, up to a maximum of $8 per day.

"I think what we have right now is a good plan in place," said Commissioner Evie McNiece, who serves as vice-chair of the authority.

The DDA board also expressed some concern over rehabilitation projects downtown that seem to be going on forever, specifically mentioning the work at 407-409 Broad St., a building owned by Rome businessman Nathan Roberts. DDA Director Amanda Carter said she periodically does walk-arounds with building inspection office staff to check on certain buildings. City Manager Sammy Rich said perhaps something should be written into the Historic Preservation ordinance with respect to timing of work that is authorized by the HPC.

The DDA approved facade grants of $2,000 for the Makervillage building, 252 N. Fifth Ave., and $1,500 for Lisa Landry at Living & Giving, 401 Broad St. Both projects involve new awnings while the Makervillage building will also get a paint job. A separate facade grant for the painting of the entire building at 401 Broad was approved last fall, however work has been held up by the weather.

Megan Watters, who chairs the design committee which reviews the facade grant applications, also told the board that her panel is close to developing a new logo for downtown Rome which will be one step closer to the development of new downtown signage at several of the key gateways to the downtown district. Watters also said her committee is looking to completely revamp the downtown information boards to include information that would be more informative to pedestrian visitors of the downtown business district.

A new website for downtown Rome is also close to going live, according to DDA Director Carter. She also reminded the board that the latest interpretation of a new downtown smoking ordinance will go before the city Public Safety committee on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m.