One Oneida County neighborhood is getting a facelift. One small business took over an old rundown elementary school and is turning the building green, inside and out. Our Cara Thomas shows us how this business could lead the way for an entire city.
ROME, N.Y. -- The old Harvey E. Alter school in Rome isn't a school any longer. In fact over the years it's gone through numerous changes.
Joyce Finnegan, the new owner of the property said, "The building was used as a school and when it closed down as a school it turned into the Rome Board of Education for about 30 years and then the Board of Education moved and the building remained vacant for a couple years."
It was just last year that Finnegan bought the property for her business, Store Scan Shred, a place where documents can be securely stored. But, not only was this building a perfect place for her business, it also held a special place in her heart. This was where her mother went to school 85 years ago.
Angeline Diberardino Pasqualetti, Finnegan's Mother said, "I recollected a lot of memories that went on in this school and all my school teachers."
So, for the past year, Finnegan has done all she can to make this building energy efficient. By replacing the old florescent lights and adding solar panels, this old school is now completely self-sustaining.
"We took the building that had utility bills of approximately $4,500 per month and our utility bill now is $49 per month and that's just for service charges," said Finnegan.
But, this new business isn't only going green on the inside, with the help of Rome's Clean and Green, a local affiliate for Keep America Beautiful, they're also going green on the outside.
Tanya Davis, the Project Coordinator at Rome Clean and Green said, "That's what this whole project is about. It's about like-minded people coming together to make our community better."
This is Rome Clean and Green's first National Planting Day where they were to fix up a local green space. And, the old school was the perfect location. Local organizations including Lowes, Ace Hardware, Olney's Landscaping and many more have all donated to the cause, providing shrubs and trees. Even the city has jumped on board. They tore up the asphalt and created a new sidewalk.
"It's a real community effort and a community coming together, business helping business, we're improving the look of the street, the neighbors are just elated as to what's going on," said Finnegan.
Finnegan said that since they started the restoration process, she's seen others in the community also taking steps to beautify their properties.
She plans to continue working with Rome Clean and Green and using the property in a variety of ways. In the seasons ahead, the landscaping will be used as a teaching tool to instruct residents on proper ways to care and prune their plants. And by next year, they hope to develop Rome's first green roof.