Revitalizing Rome

I have lived in and around Rome, NY for most of my life.  This was not by design - in fact by high school I was settled on completing a Computer Science degree and moving to Silicon Valley to make a million dollars before the age of thirty.  Life sometimes doesn't go as planned, and through a series of events, here I am.

Housing Tells a Story

The Central NY area as a whole has its charms, and you could make a convincing case that it's a nice place to settle down and raise a family.  Drive in any direction from Rome and you'll find healthy real estate markets, rising in price but still affordable compared to much of the country.  The city of Rome itself has suffered from depressed and somewhat stagnant housing prices, and depending on who you ask you may get a variety of reasons for this: low average income, soft local job market, above-average taxes, or an aging population causing a glut of houses on the market.

With bargain prices on housing you would expect to see more families settling down in the city.  Instead the trend seems to be to settle down in the sprawling suburbia around the city - Westmoreland, Floyd, Westernville, Lee, Taberg - some Rome Labs employees will commute more than an hour from Syracuse and beyond.

An Image Problem

Much work has been done through projects like the Main Streets Alliance and the outgoing city administration to give the city a facelift.  A seemingly strong culture runs through the city, from the Capitol Theatre to Ft. Stanwix and RACC.  So what gives?  Spend a little time on the Rome, NY Topix forum and you'll see another side to Rome; a culture obsessed with gossip, drugs, welfare and slander.  It's like a bad episode of Jerry Springer where a handful of very loud voices drown out any positive discussion that could take place regarding the city.  This is a small part of the overall population, but we've let this culture take root in the city and have done little to guide the dialogue of what our values are as a city.

There are other ways to change the discussion.  The whirlwind of negativity that is the Rome, NY Topix forum is a perfect example of people with way too much free time on their hands.  Rome has been bereft of night life activities for some years now, and especially so with under-21 persons.  When Walmart has become a viable Friday night entertainment option (and this is for many kids), we're fundamentally failing our community.  If these young adults don't take the first chance they get to leave town for someplace with more activity, they're at risk of being pulled into a undercurrent that's been slowly sapping this city of life for more than two decades.

It Takes a Village

We're happy that LAN Mob is in a very small way helping towards this problem.  Gaming is a healthy way to build life skills, from communication to teamwork and perseverance.  This gives people of all ages an outlet on the weekends and an entertainment alternative in a city that's desperately lacking.  We need more spaces like this where we can build community in a positive way and continue to make the city a more attractive place to live & work.
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