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New SPLOST turns focus on roads, sidewalks

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Collections start April 1 for a package of projects funded through a special purpose, local option sales tax approved by voters in 2017.

The $63.8 million SPLOST package — 25 projects anchored by an $8 million agricultural center — passed with 60.73 percent of the vote, including unprecedented support from the unincorporated part of the county.

About 41 percent of the funding is earmarked for transportation and a wide variety of public works projects; 26 percent for public safety; 22 percent for economic development and 11 percent for recreation.

Here’s a look at what’s in store:

♦ Agricultural Center, $8,000,000: A site hasn’t been selected yet for this citizen-submitted project, but the Floyd County Commission could put it on a fast track to free up space in other buildings. Plans are for a central arena surrounded by offices, cafes and a Georgia Grown store. Space for a permanent farmers market and food trucks will be included in the complex.

♦ Jail medical facility Phase II, $5,200,000: An unused pod in the jail on Ga. 53 will be turned into a medical and mental health wing. Phase I funding was in the 2013 SPLOST and work is set to start on a training center in the parking lot.

♦ Rome public works, $5,000,000: Just under half will go for sidewalks to replace paths worn between residential and shopping areas, including on Redmond Circle, Lavender Drive and Reservoir Street. The balance will be to repave deteriorated roads in the city.

♦ Historic Courthouse renovations, $5,000,000: Most of the money will be used to repair and restore the leaking and moldy historic courthouse on North Fifth Avenue. Interior remodeling also is planned.

♦ Roads and bridges, $4,500,000: Roads in the unincorporated area neglected during the recession will be resurfaced. Bridges that have weight restrictions against school buses and fire trucks will be upgraded.

♦ Public safety facility and equipment $4,400,000: Rome Commissioners have already advanced money to complete the police department’s take-home car program and a fire truck is on order. A burn building for the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department also is planned.

♦ Waterways, $3,639,500: The ECO River Education Center in Ridge Ferry Park will be expanded. A community boathouse will be built in a second education area off Pollock Street in South Rome. River trail campsites will be built as funding allows.

♦ County capital equipment and vehicles, $3,400,000: Old county police vehicles and public works heavy machinery will be replaced.

♦ Land for economic development, $3,110,000: Officials want to find and buy parcels of at least 100 acres and fit them out with infrastructure to help lure new industries.

♦ Prison security upgrades, $2,705,000: The Floyd County Prison on Black’s Bluff Road will be remodeled to meet new safety codes. The facility also will get a digital camera system, replacement door locks, controls and lights and a full-body imaging scanner.

♦ Texas Valley water line extension, $2,500,000: An 8-mile water line extension will link two closed ends of the county’s water system so water can be routed where it is most needed.

♦ County public works facility, $2,450,000: The county public works facility on Black’s Bluff Road — a 50-year-old building and double-wide trailer — will be replaced and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse added.

♦ Recreation, $2,026,600: Big projects include a major upgrade to the Brushy Branch fishing lake, the skate park in Etowah Park and Parks Hoke Park in South Rome. Smaller improvements, including rubberized playground surfaces, are slated for parks around the county.

♦ Fifth Avenue River District streetscape, $2,000,000: The city of Rome will add pedestrian-friendly elements to encourage redevelopment of the Fifth Avenue and West Third Street district.

♦ State Mutual Stadium improvements, $2,000,000: The Rome Braves renewed their contract in February and will participate in modernizing the county stadium on Veterans Memorial Parkway. An architect has been hired. New locker rooms, a larger store and a banquet pavilion are among the upgrades planned.

♦ Rome water system improvements, $1,750,000: The 2-inch water pipes in the Rosemont Park area will be replaced and the 20-inch main will be extended down Maple Road to increase pressure.

♦ Cave Spring sewer improvements, $1,281,000: The city has already started on a major upgrade to its leaking sewer system and treatment plant. City Council members netted state and federal loans and grants to swell the project to about $5 million.

♦ Silver Creek Trail extension to Lindale, $1,180,000: The Kingfisher Trail will be extended from the Floyd County Health Department, along an abandoned railroad bed to Lindale. County officials also are working on a rail viewing station to serve as a trailhead.

♦ Airport corporate hangar, $899,210: A corporate hangar will be built to house larger aircraft that will be able to land at the county-owned facility when the runway extension is completed.

♦ Barron Stadium improvements, $825,000: The stadium on West Third Street will get new artificial turf, a new scoreboard and upgrades to its press box.

♦ Special operations equipment, $248,200: The Rome-Floyd County Bomb Squad will get a new robot and X-ray equipment. Funding is included for protective vests and matching weapons for the SWAT team as well.

♦ North Broad Youth Center recreation, $600,000: The money would pay for a covered multi-purpose sports pavilion and playground on donated land next to the after-school facility at 1141 N. Broad St.

♦ Public safety technology, $415,170: The Floyd County Police Department will get a major technological upgrade with forensic equipment, body cameras, in-car cameras, mobile tablets and a new server.

♦ East Central secondary access, $395,000: A new entrance to the school, off East 14th Street and Bobo Drive, will relieve congestion on Dean Avenue.

♦ Upgrades to the 911 Center, $257,000: The main center, in the Joint Law Enforcement Building on North Fifth Avenue, will be remodeled with state-of-the-art consoles and security upgrades. The back-up center on East 12th Street will get a new phone recorder system.

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