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SPLOST changes the face of Rome and Floyd County

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A five-year capital improvement program spread $65 million worth of projects across Rome, Floyd County and Cave Spring.

The package was funded through revenue from the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax. Collections started April 1, 2014, and will end at the end of this month. Voters approved an extension for a new package of projects, however, so the local sales tax rate won’t change.

Here’s a look at what the 2013 SPLOST built:

♦ Playground improvements, $1,100,000: New playgrounds and play surfaces were installed at 10 parks around the county — Lower Alto, Banty Jones, Ridge Ferry,Cave Spring, Parks Hoke, Garden Lakes, Etowah, Lock & Dam, Tolbert and the Floyd County Softball Complex.

♦ The Forum upgrade, $1,400,000: The Forum River Center got a makeover from a new roof, lighting and technology to renovations to the ballroom and meeting rooms.

♦ Fannin Hall rehab, $2,591,000: Cave Spring restored and modernized the historic building that serves as its city hall.

♦ Animal control facility, $5,700,000: PAWS, the public animal welfare services facility at 99 North Ave., opened in December 2016 and has a live animal “save rate” topping 96 percent. A dog park nearing completion in Ridge Ferry Park was a small part of the project.

♦ County public safety facilities, $900,000: A special operations building to store county law enforcement equipment was built behind PAWS on North Avenue and the firing range on Black’s Bluff Road was upgraded.

♦ Tennis center, $11,400,000: The Rome Tennis Center at Berry College was built off the Armuchee Connector and draws premier tournaments on a regular basis. The city of Rome plans to spend about $5 million to add covered courts in time to host the 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference tennis championships.

♦ Burnett Ferry Road, $2,721,000: The road was widened to a standard two-lane and the ditches replaced by curb and gutter with sidewalks from Shorter Avenue to Alto Park Elementary School.

♦ County energy efficiency, $1,700,000: The Rome-Floyd Library, Law Enforcement Center, Judicial Building and Floyd County Health Department got new controls and chillers designed to save on utility bills.

♦ City Auditorium update, $1,700,000: A new motorized stage rigging system, sound system and lighting system were installed along with improvements to the auditorium seating and Sam King meeting room.

♦ Recycling center upgrades, $1,379,000: Instead of renovating the old facility on Watters Street, the old Zartic plant on Lavender Drive was converted to a larger, modernized recycling center and opened for business in December.

♦ Barron, Calhoun roads, $130,000: The intersection at Barron and Calhoun roads was realigned early on, to include turn lanes and a traffic signal.

♦ Expand trail connectivity, $1,800,000: Work is about to start on the Mount Berry Trail, followed by the Redmond Trail. The two will connect with the Heritage Trail system between downtown Rome and State Mutual Stadium to form a 10-mile loop on both sides of the Oostanaula River.

♦ Unity Point/South Broad bridge, $1,800,000: The historic South Broad Bridge by Myrtle Hill was rehabilitated with new lighting and sidewalks. Work to restore Unity Point at the confluence of the rivers is stalled while engineers wrestle with how to stabilize the bank.

♦ Industrial property for jobs, $8 million: About $2.7 million was spent to grade a 100-acre tract at the corner of Ga. 53 and 140, expand it by 10.7 acres and add close to four acres to the Northwest Regional Industrial Park in Shannon. Ball Corporation agreed in February to buy the Shannon site for about $1.7 million and has 120 days to complete due diligence. Economic development officials are trying to identify new sites to purchase.

♦ Airport runway extension, $5,761,000: Plans to extend the runway at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport to 7,000 feet remain on hold. The project is “shovel ready” but construction bids are over budget. Officials are seeking a federal grant.

♦ Downtown Visitor Center, $50,000: The visitors center is operating in the back of the Rome Area History Museum, across from the Town Green.

♦ Jackson Hill Tourism Center, $200,000: A small tourism information center was built on Jackson Hill, where the historic Fort Norton’s earthen fortification system is now the basis for multi-purpose trails.

♦ Fire trucks, facility upgrade, $750,000: An education trailer and tanker truck were purchased. About $400,000 left over will be combined with 2017 SPLOST funds to modernize the burn building used for training.

♦ Jail improvements, $1,900,000: The facility on New Calhoun Highway got all new controls, a new elevator and LED perimeter lighting.

♦ Jail medical/mental health, $2,200,000: The funding is being combined with a 2017 SPLOST earmark to reconstruct and equip a vacant pod at the jail as a medical wing and mental health facility.

♦ Case management software, $500,000: Officials started digitizing court documents for the Sustain system but a better opportunity arose. Clerk of Superior Court Barbara Penson netted grant funding for new eCourt software that can interface with other courts around the state and the system, estimated at around $4 million, went live in February.

♦ City police facility upgrade, $396,000: The department’s training room and firing ranges were updated to include new equipment and a firearms simulator.

♦ Rome streets, $500,000: Public works crews added to the state-funded list of streets that were milled down and resurfaced each year.

♦ Sewer improvements, $1,000,000: Rome replaced at least 9,000 feet of sewer main and a lift station to increase capacity in the areas of Old Calhoun and Kingston roads and Fourth Street near the Etowah River.

♦ Everett Springs water line, $5,800,000: Floyd County installed about 17 miles of pipe, including fire hydrants, and added a pump station and million-gallon water tank to extend service to the area where bacteria has been contaminating wells.

♦ Chulio Hills back entrance, $800,000: Work is underway to widen and improve Honeysuckle Ridge Road as a secondary entrance to the subdivision. Construction is slated to wrap up before summer.

♦ County infrastructure, $1,400,000: Much of the money went to drainage and sidewalk improvements in the mill village communities of Riverside and Lindale, along with intersection improvements and some road paving.

♦ County equipment, $1,400,000: Police cars, right-of-way mowers and rollers for street-paving are among the pieces of heavy machinery and vehicles purchased with the earmark.

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