WOTS

The annual Polar Bear Paddle, held in early January each year from Dixon Landing on the Etowah River to Heritage Park in downtown Rome, is in limbo this year.

Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, said he has worked with the Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful office on that project for the last several years but since that position in the city is still vacant, no decisions have been made. Demonbreun-Chapman said he is talking with Emma Wells at the Rome Floyd ECO River Education Center but that no date has been set.

Demonbreun-Chapman said he's not overly concerned about the impact of high water, which is expected to continue, at least for the short term, into the new year.

"I don't see it getting any worse than it has been several times this fall," Demonbreun-Chapman said. He did say that at some point, some equipment is going to be needed to remove a lot of the heavy vegetative debris that has been floating down the river during the consistent high water of the past two months.

DDA eyeing potential work in River District

Downtown Rome leaders have been focused on developing the River District, the West Third Street and North Fifth Avenue corridor for several years and 2019 could be the year some significant physical work takes place.

DDA Director Amanda Carter said the completion of a consultant's report for the area is just the first step and is, for the most part, a long range vision for the area. In the short term, Carter said she anticipates the DDA Design committee, led by Megan Watters would target several buildings in the district for facade grants to perk up the look.

Carter also hinted that there may be some revolving loan fund projects in the works for the area but could not comment specifically on any of the plans yet.

One of those projects could be Wayne Robinson's plans for a mixed-use residential/retail/office development on a two acre-tract adjacent to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Robinson has proposed a City Manager Sammy Rich said Robinson and his architect, Mark Cochran are still fine-tuning the final design and working out all of the financial details before coming back to the city to actually purchase the property.

"He (Robinson) seemed to be optimistic that construction numbers were going to be within reach," Rich said. "I'm optimistic that we may have a go there."

Bids for enclosed tennis facility being reviewed

City officials are in the process of reviewing bonds for a six-court enclosed tennis facility for the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.  The city faces an April 2020 deadline for completing the facility which is part of the requirements to host the Atlantic Coast Conference tennis championship in 2020 and 2021.

The city opened four bids for the facility before Christmas. Offers came from Van Winkle Construction of Atlanta, Patillo of Atlanta, Ra-Lin of Carrollton and BMK Construction & Engineering of Braselton.

The bids came in from approximately $2.5 million to $4.1 million and the city expects to finance the project by issuing bonds. 

The enclosed facility would most likely involve use of three current courts that front the Armuchee Connector, according to RTC Director Tom Daglis, at the northern end of the site.  Enough land adjacent to those courts was graded two years ago for future use to help hold down the cost of construction

Rome hosted the ACC championships in 2017 on an emergency basis after the event was moved out of Cary, North Carolina until the state rescinded a controversial "potty" law. Should bad weather have hampered that event, arrangements had been made to move matches to indoor facilities in Atlanta or Chattanooga.

The indoor facility is expected to help the Rome Tennis Center attract even more major tournament action in the future.