The city of Rome awarded a Birmingham design firm a contract to develop a concept for improvements to Rome’s River District.

Goodwin, Mills and Cawood, an architectural engineering firm, agreed to take on the project for $72,500.

Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson told the Downtown Development Authority board Thursday that the firm will take approximately eight months to examine existing conditions, seek public engagement and then develop a design plan for the West Third Street and North Fifth Avenue corridors.

Former Rome planning staff member Bryan King is affiliated with the Alabama firm and already has a good idea of what the city is seeking to accomplish, Eidson said. He estimated that the work should be done by the end of the year.

Eidson said the first phase of work in the district would most likely involve infrastructure — any utility changes that need to take place — thanks to a $600,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant. Residents of Rome and Floyd County also approved a $2 million earmark in the 2017 SPLOST package to help finance streetscape physical improvements to the area.

In other business, the DDA board learned that Friday is the final day for people to submit applications for the vacant parking services manager position.

Becky Smyth left that post in December to become the city purchasing director.

City Commissioner Jamie Doss asked the board if a parking services manager was even needed and if revenue is sufficient to sustain the four employees in the DDA office.

“We still have a lot of things to manage,” Eidson said.

DDA Director Amanda Carter said that the number of people who contact the office regarding parking is sufficient alone to warrant a replacement for Smyth. The job has already drawn 14 applicants and Eidson said some of the resumes look very good.

Megan Watters, head of the DDA design committee, also showed off a series of four new banners that will be added to the poles along Broad Street in the coming year. One celebrates Rome as a Bee City while two others are reflective of Rome’s status as a Tree City.

Watters also said her committee is closer to bringing forward a design for new gateway signage at the entrance to downtown Rome. Carter said the preferred concept involves an arch that would cross Broad Street.

Carter said the initial preferred location would be on Broad Street near the Turner McCall Boulevard intersection.

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