Downtown Rome is dotted with art, from plaques and sculptures to quirky yarn-bombed statuary — and there will be Blooms on Broad added to the mix later this spring.
The Community Foundation for Greater Rome has just ordered planters they’ll install at the intersections on Broad Street and fill with colorful flowers. Executive Director Joel Snider said they’ll start at Second Avenue and go from there.
“The goal is 12 planters per intersection,” Snider told the Rome City Commission during a Monday presentation that showed groupings of three on each corner.
The local nonprofit — a charity bank that funds initiatives as diverse as mental health training, a bus for the YMCA and dental services at the free clinic — plans to jump-start the permanent beautification project. Snider said they were inspired by a trip to Columbus, Indiana, where ornamental flower planters, boxes and hanging baskets are an integral part of the streetscape.
“This is an awesome gift from the foundation; an opportunity to change the look of downtown,” City Manager Sammy Rich said.
Snider said they estimate the pilot project on Second Avenue will run about $19,400, including the self-watering planters, and cost about $6,600 a year for maintenance. They’ve done extensive research on the best plants to use and once they “find out what we don’t know,” Snider said.
They’ve raised enough to get started and are lining up sponsors for the rest. It’s $12,000 for a whole intersection or $3,500 a corner and the installation comes with a dedication plaque.
Plans are for the foundation to pay for the first two years of planters and plantings along with a year’s worth of maintenance. The Rome Public Works Department will do the maintenance the second year and the city will take over the whole operation in Year 3.
Snider said they’re also looking at mini-grants to offer downtown businesses that want to do their own planters as well. City Commissioners, some of whom went on the Indiana fact-finding trip, expressed wholehearted support.
“One of the common denominators we’ve found in successful communities is a community foundation,” Rich noted.
Community foundations are philanthropic organizations that work to encourage other nonprofits in their community. They build endowments from local contributions and channel grants and gifts to operations in need of a boost.
The Greater Rome foundation, launched in 2015 by a group of local residents, was the 21st established in Georgia. Its holding now top $1 million and it has given away nearly $300,000. The board of directors accepts applications each fall for grants from its Community Impact Fund and makes other awards through the year.
A cornerstone of the foundation is its Give 2020 campaign, which looks for a broad cross-section of people to commit $20 a month for $20 months. More information is available on its website at cffgr.org.