Phase III of the Liberty Gardens Redevelopment Project in Rome is underway


ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Officials who took part in the Phase III groundbreaking ceremony at the Liberty Gardens Apartments on Rome's west side Friday morning say putting their shovels to the dirt is really signifying a new beginning for not only these low income apartments, but for the City of Rome in general.
Rome Councilwoman Ramona Smith who represents the 4th Ward in Rome which contains Liberty Gardens says she has heard for years from people who lived in Liberty Gardens  that they didn't feel good about living there, but she says since this three phase renovation project began in 2010, there has been a big change in attitude.
Smith, who lives just a block away says besides residents having a better attitude, the renovations have made walking in her neighborhood much more enjoyable, "It makes such an impact, it's not like you have one house on one block and another on a another block, this is the whole visual impact, so it's absolutely wonderful."
Rome Mayor Joe Fusco says more than $10 million dollars in state funding is continuing to transform what has been an eyesore and a problem area for years, into a place where people are lining up to try and move into, "I've walked by or driven by this facility every day since 1963, so I grew up as a kid here, we played here.  To see this coming alive and see  the area coming alive again and it being nice and new, it's just very heartwarming."
Oneida County Legislature Minority Leader Frank Tallerino represents this section of Rome and says he remembers Liberty Gardens being built in the early 60's.  He says it was a great place to live at one time, but definitely went downhill, and was in need for these major renovations, "People used to say, I 'have to' live at Liberty Gardens, now they 'want' to live at Liberty Gardens.  That's a big turnaround, and this is something remarkable."
Some residents who have lived at Liberty Gardens for years were out at Friday's groundbreaking say the project has not only changed the bricks and mortar, but has changed the community feel of where they live.  One of those is Joey Hildenbrandt, "Everybody's out socializing more than they used to be.  No one's hiding in the houses like cooped up cavemen, ..Look at it, you can't beat the place, it's awesome."
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi was among those public officials who took part in Friday's groundbreaking.  He says projects like these are much needed all over the state, and he believes many more such projects are on the way, "The State Department of Homes and Urban Renewal is looking to partner with cities and communities to do these types of projects.  The Governor has made affordable housing one of his biggest priorities.  We have an aging housing stock in our area and MHA's and Housing Authorities should really take advantage of some of these programs."
When completed, Liberty Gardens will contain a total of 180 brand new apartments, either in brand new buildings or in the older ones that are being totally renovated.

Phase III is expected to take about 8 months, with a tentative completion date set for some time in January. 

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