"Why can't the road be done first rather than closed," asked Pastor H.B. Young. "We absolutely need the road to be open." He said that it had been disrespectful of the city and city school board to have come this far in the planning process without having involved the church at 935 Spider Webb Drive in the process.
Rome Public Services Director Kirk Milam said the work to reroute the road would be done almost simultaneously with school construction to meet a timetable that would result in the school opening on time at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
A separate issue involved who will pay for the relocation of the road. The school board and city staff are in discussions to determine where the money will come from for the relocation. School board member Alvin Jackson Sr. told the Rome Public Works committee and about two dozen church members that the city schools cannot pay for the project while the city staff felt like it should be part of the Education Sales Tax funding for the new Main Elementary project or come from the school systems general budget.
Minister of Music Marvin Williams pressed the committee to ensure that someone within the city public safety network be present at all Thankful Baptist Church functions in the event the road is closed. If the eastern end of Spider Webb is closed, the only access to the church would be from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at the Dairy Queen, 879 Spider Webb Drive.
"We will in no way compromise the safety of Thankful Baptist Church," said Commissioner Randy Quick.
Pastor Young also said he had been assured construction of the new school would not have a negative impact on the church.
"I don't know what we can tell you other than we are working on it," said Commissioner Bill Collins.
The city commission will have to conduct a full public hearing on road closure. Chairwoman Sundai Stevenson said that hearing would take place at either the second meeting in April or first meeting in May.