Mayor: Senators very interested in Northwest Georgia Regional property
Locals are feeling out the potential of bringing federal appropriation dollars to Rome in order to pay for the development of the former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property off Division Street.
Rome’s Mayor Sundai Stevenson alongside Rome-Floyd Development Authority and Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce heads met with both of Georgia’s senators in mid-March during a trip to Washington D.C.
“They are very interested, very interested, in our hospital property,” Stevenson said.
During that meeting, Stevenson said they learned that no appropriations money came to Northwest Georgia last year and both Sen. Jon Ossoff and Sen. Raphael Warnock said they want that to change.
“They want some money to come here,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson described the discussion as a follow-up from a meeting with Sen. Ossoff on Feb. 22. The senator met with Rome’s business and community leaders to discuss needs specific to this community.
That roundtable discussion ranged from topics concerning the financial burden being placed by communities downriver from Dalton-based companies dumping perfluorinated compounds into the Oostanaula River to the former state hospital property.
Any funds will be welcome Rome-Floyd County Development Authority President Missy Kendrick said during the authority’s March meeting.
The authority purchased the 130-plus acres off Division Street from the state with $2.25 million in funds approved by voters in the 2013 and 2017 SPLOST packages. The actual price tag of developing the property will increase with expensive environmental mitigation removes any toxic materials, like asbestos, prior to demolition.
Thus far the authority has applied for environmental mitigation grants in order to clean up.
They’ve also discussed seeking grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission. ARC co-chair Gayle Manchin and Executive Director Brandon McBride toured the facility along with city commissioners in early March.
While the potential for federal funds and grants are there site cleanup and maintenance are underway.
The development authority approved up to $150,000 for personnel and site remediation earlier this year. They’ve retained J.R. Davis, who worked at the hospital for over 20 years, to perform the day-to-day repairs on the property.
“Early on we rode around out there and realized it was going to be a challenge,” RFCDA Chair Jimmy Byars said.
The hospital property has been closed and lying fallow for over a decade.
Some of those funds initially will go toward environmental mitigation from the old buildings. That must take place prior to demolition, which isn’t likely to begin until later this year or early 2023.