Market Building Renovations Move Forward

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Roanoke City Council voted (7-0) Monday to move forward with the million City Market Building renovations, targeting completion by 2011. A 0,000 engineering study was approved to get the ball rolling.

“I don’t think there’s any question in the city or among this council that [it is] our number one priority,” said Mayor David Bowers.

Meanwhile, a 5,000-seat amphitheater in Elmwood Park inched closer to becoming a reality after $1.2 million was approved for engineering and architectural work. Anita Price was the lone “no” vote, saying the amphitheater is not a high priority for her at this time.

Almost $4 million in renovations at the city’s two public pools has been put on hold, in a plan voted down, 4-3. City officials will continue to meet with residents about possible upgrades in the future. One plan for Washington Park includes water play features akin to an amusement park.

The National Guard Armory is now slated for demolition in December, and City Manager Darlene Burcham suggested that city council decide the future of the site along Reserve Avenue that adjoins what used to be Victory Stadium. Some would like to see permanent athletic fields there, to augment nearby River’s Edge fields and to add needed inventory to the city’s parks and recreation system.

Council is still mulling proposals from three companies that have bid to manage and operate Countryside Golf Course; meanwhile $2 million has been set aside for course upgrades.

On his blog, councilman Court Rosen said that for now, he would “not support construction of an amphitheater, municipal operation of a golf course … or a regional waterpark. I do not believe we can afford these items.” Rosen did approve the $1.2 million for engineering and architectural work for the amphitheatre.

Rosen wrote that he is concerned about future subsidies that would be needed if those capital projects moved forward right now. “I cannot support building luxury items that will cause increased taxpayer subsidies when we already are forced to subsidize other facilities we run (Civic Center, Market Building).”