Rome-Floyd County Recycling Center

Rome is using SPLOST money to buy new equipment and renovate this building on Lavender Drive to be its new recycling center and move some operations from Watters Street. (Doug Walker / Rome News-Tribune)

An opportunity to expand the new recycling center on Lavender Drive before it is even open for business will go before the Rome and Floyd County commissions.

Ira Levy is offering to lease at the remaining 12,000 square feet of the former Zartic plant he owns at a discount. Remodeling of the 25,000-square-foot portion already under contract is expected to be complete by July 1.

County Manager Jamie McCord told the joint Solid Waste Commission Monday that the additional space would allow them to completely close the existing facility on Watters Street. He said three local entrepreneurs have indicated interest in the property in the past two months.

That fits with the city’s long-range plans, and the hopes of the neighborhood association, according to City Manager Sammy Rich.

“If we can attract private investment there, what that will do for the North Rome community will be huge,” Rich said.

The Solid Waste Commission agreed to send the recommendation to the elected boards for action.

The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contains $1.3 million for a larger and more modern recycling facility. That wasn’t enough to build one from scratch, so the SWC negotiated the $3,300-a-month lease agreement with Levy.

County Public Works Director Michael Skeen, who is overseeing the project, said the new offer is for $700 a month more — or $500 a month in exchange for the old baler at the Watters facility.

County crews have already dug a 55-foot-long, 4-foot-deep feeder trench and seven deep footers for the new baler designed for the Lavender Drive facility. It’s scheduled to be installed by March.

The expanded lease also would bring down the overall lease to about 10 cents per square foot, less than half the going rate for warehouse space.

Skeen said the two additional bays and parking area would make it easier to hold more frequent collections of old electronics. The popular events are a net financial loss, but an overall benefit.

“If we don’t give people options, Chris and I end up picking them up on the side of the road,” he said, referencing Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins.

Controlling the entire building also improves security, and is expected to save money on the remodeling. It would eliminate the need to install separate electrical systems and water meters for the recycling center and the other tenant.

The fire suppression project, expected to start in the next two weeks, already includes sprinklers for the whole building because of code requirements.

Skeen said construction bids are due by the end of the month for the rest of the remodeling, which also includes scales, storage, offices, a bathroom, a break room and a conference room that can be used for public education programs.