Downtown Development leaders indicated Thursday that after almost two weeks on the books, a new No Smoking ordinance for downtown Rome seems to functioning like they hoped it would.
“It’s been almost two weeks and I’ve picked up two butts. I used to pick up 20 a day,” Blumberg said, referring to the sidewalk tables in front of his Johnny’s New York Style Pizza on Broad Street.
The ordinance, which bans smoking along Broad Street and along the side avenues for one block in either direction off Broad, went into effect April 1. A consortium of health care providers in Rome called Beatheasy Rome lobbied for the ordinance, calling the smoking at entrances to downtown shops a public health issue.
“Our cleanup guy has noticed a tremendous difference,” said DDA Director Amanda Carter.
City crews have been putting up signs along the Broad Street corridor to inform visitors to the downtown district about the ordinance. Carter said that originally 30 signs were ordered, but that 18 additional signs are going to be added.
The DDA board approved facade grants for Blumberg at Johnny’s and for Garry and Cindy Fricks at the Canoe House, 608 Broad St. Blumberg received $2,500 toward the $30,000 project to completely re-stucco the front of his building while the Frickses received $2,000 to offset the $19,150 expenses for the paint work and awning that are sprucing up their new business. Board member Connie Sams said an open house had been scheduled at The Canoe House for April 22
New automated paid parking kiosks have been installed at the Third Avenue and Sixth Avenue parking decks as well as the street-level lot behind Harvest Moon, but software work still has to be completed before they are actually put into use.
New license plate reader devices to enforce on-street parking are expected to be ready for use sometime in May. DDA Marketing Director Megan Treglown said she hopes to schedule a public forum to update business owners and the public
Blumberg told the authority board members that Ballard Betz, a member of the board since January 2018, had tendered his resignation since he no longer lives, or works, in the downtown district. Carter said the effort to find a replacement is already underway. Betz headed the Business Development committee for the DDA which put together the tour of downtown loft apartments which raised $3,000 for the Ruth and Naomi Shelter for Homeless Women last weekend.
A full schedule for the summer Downtown Rome Saturdays was announced Thursday. The series begins May 4 with the Ellen Axson Wilson Arts Fest; the Spirit of the Sun Festival on the rivers is set for June 1 with the A1A Jimmy Buffet tribute band in town; Ashland Craft who appeared on The Voice will be in concert July 6 at the Town Green; Little Known Letter will be in concert August 3 at Bridgepoint Plaza and a variety of artists will be featured at the Sept. 7 event in the River District.