Change taking shape at Liberty Gardens
When Rome's Liberty Garden Apartments were built in 1952, the low-income housing units were meant to be a place where families could start out while saving up to buy or build their own home. In the 60 years since, the apartments had fallen into disrepair and received few updates, until now. Our Sarah Blazonis stopped by Monday and talked to residents about major renovations taking place at the complex.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ROME, N.Y. -- Arthur Reid and his mother moved into building 800 at the Liberty Garden Apartments 58 years ago, and he says a lot's changed since then.
"There was a sapling about two or three feet high that they had just planted there, and my mother would always scream at me, 'Look out for that tree, you're going to kill it!'" Reid said while reminiscing about his often late starts out the door to school at Rome Free Academy. "That tree is about 60 feet tall now, and about five or six feet in diameter at the base."
Edward Corr, a supporter of the original project, says the apartments were envisioned as a stepping stone to homeownership for families like Reids.
"Rome, at the time, didn't have housing projects similar to this one here. In other words, they lived in semi-housing conditions, but for 180 families, it's been a terrific home for them," said Corr, treasurer of the Rome Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. Corr has been a member of the board for the past 50 years.
Monday, Reid, Corr, and dozens of other community members got a look at the nearly complete Phase One of the Liberty Gardens Revitalization Project. So far, two buildings have been completely gutted and remodeled, and 12 new units have been built.
"They're not only rehabilitating a 1950s era project, but they've also added new construction to the mix," said Rome Mayor Joseph Fusco, Jr.
It's the first major renovations to the complex in six decades. Residents say seeing their new homes for the first time is an experience they won't soon forget.
"I cried. I did. I just, I didn't think it was going to turn out as nice as it did, but it turned out wonderful for the people," said resident Bonnie Platt.
Not only are the new units more visually attractive, but officials also say they're more energy efficient.
"We expect the cost for heating these units when we're done to decrease by more than 50 percent of the prior cost," said Duncan Barrett, COO of Omni Housing Development LLC, a partner in the project along with the Rome Housing Authority.
Ground was also broken at the future site of the Edward W. Corr Community Building. Corr says he's honored his name will remain a permanent part of the community and that the project will ensure even sweeter homes for generations to come.