“Any risks still remain with General Electric,” Authority attorney Andy Davis told the authority. “It is a no-liability transfer. That’s why it’s taken five or six years”
The now-closed GE plant at one time made transformers, and polychlorinated biphenyls leached from the plant into surrounding areas. PCBs are considered a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rome has been working with GE, state and federal environmental regulators for the last five or six years to facilitate the transfer of the property that is slated for recreational purposes.
Assistant City Manager Sammy Rich told authority members the city has drawn up a conceptual plan for potential use of the property, showing 50 acres devoted to active multi-sport recreational fields, youth baseball fields and a picnic pavilion, and another 60 acres of passive use with walking and mountain biking trails.
Approximately 12.6 acres near the intersection of Redmond Circle and Mathis Road is earmarked for commercial and mixed use.
One of the covenants on the property prohibits any residential development on the acreage.
In other business, Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce President Al Hodge reported about a meeting with the Georgia Economic Developers Association on Monday during which the chamber chief said that Rome had hosted a delegation from an unnamed Asian country for a full day recently.
“We’re working with several companies,” Hodge said. “Both existing and new.”
Hodge said that communities were told during the GEDA meeting that incentives were an increasingly important part of the effort to attract industry.
“What works today is likely to not work tomorrow,” Hodge said the group was told.
The discussion turned quickly to available land for potential industrial prospects.
“If you don’t have the sites, you can’t bring them in,” said Chamber Economic Development Director Heather Seckman.
She pointed out that if a company like Lowe’s were to come to the community today that a similar 130-acre site is not immediately available.
“We would be at a competitive disadvantage,” said authority Chairman Angie Lewis.
Hodge said there are larger tracts across the community that could be put together relatively quickly if that kind of a need were to materialize.
Georgia Power and state economic development officials got a bus tour of the Lowe’s distribution site at Ga. 140 and Ga. 53 during their tour of Northwest Georgia. Seckman also said that the group was scheduled to visit the Northwest Industrial Park, the former Star Fields complex in Shannon, as well as the Floyd County Industrial Park near Georgia Highlands College. Seckman noted that a level 40-acre site is available in that park.
After a visit to Polk County, the economic developers were back in Rome for a dinner and reception at the Forrest Place on Broad Street.