Rebecca Blaylock Child Development Center

The Rebecca Blaylock Child Development Center has received tentative approval from the Rome Community Development Committee for a $125,000 earmark in the 2021 Community Development Block grant funding.

Rome’s Community Development Committee has agreed to include $125,000 in its 2021 Community Development Block Grant budget for major repairs at the Rebecca Blaylock Child Development Center, 608 Graham St. in West Rome.

City Manager Sammy Rich said that while it is not typical, the city has assisted other not-for profits, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Kelsey-Aycock-Burrell Center with CDBG funds in the past.

The original nursery was founded in 1936 by Blaylock, a young Black woman and new teacher in the local schools who saw a need for after school care for underprivileged Black children.

The building which is in serious need of repairs is the former Graham Street School building, which closed in 1967. That property was deeded to the Blaylock Center in 1968 with the stipulation that should the Center ever leave it, the building would revert to city ownership.

Commissioner Bill Collins, chairman of the Community Development Committee told the panel that the Blaylock Center was the first school building he ever set foot in.

The $125,000 earmark would be used to reroof the building, gut and completely renovate bathrooms, level and repair the entry hallway and other miscellaneous improvements.

The city will receive $466,386 in CDBG funds this year, an increase of $30,000 from the 2020 allocation.

In addition to the work at the Rebecca Blaylock Center, $167,386 is being pledged to continue sidewalk improvements in East Rome while another $90,000 will be set aside for a minor housing repair program. Planning and administration funds in the amount of $84,000 are also set aside in the 2021 allocation.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox said a public hearing to consider the CDBG budget would be held Thursday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Training Room on the ground floor of the Carnegie building.

Two new single family homes on Peachtree Street, built under a partnership with the South Rome Alliance have already gone under contract, Fox said, and a third home on Grover Street already has an interested buyer. Two of the three prospective home owners would be moving to Rome, one from Acworth and the other from Canton.

The two homes are being sold at $97,750, the cost of construction. Fox said the estimated mortgage payments will be approximately $575.

The third house on Grover Street will be somewhere between $5,000 and $7,500 more expensive because of the increase in the construction cost.

New Community Development office assistant Marleny Escobar told the committee the city has received 34 applications for rental or utility assistance funded by a $255,497 CARES Act grant.

Of the total applications for funding, the city has denied nine of the applications, 14 have been funded and 11 are still pending. The city has made $32,971 in rental assistance payments and another $4,148.12 in utility payments.

The city has also made 36 grants of $5,000 each to small businesses for COVID-related losses. That initial round of CARES Act money, $258,026, still has $78,000 in the account to assist small businesses with up to $5,000 in aid.

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