City Council Weighs In On Parkway

0

by Valerie Garner

A General Management Plan is being finalized that will preserve resources and manage access routes to the 76 year-old Blue Ridge Parkway. The National Park Service held a public forum on the Plan on November 10 in Roanoke County.

The National Park Service will use the input from stakeholders on how best to protect the Parkway, manage visitor’s use and better analyze the costs and alternatives.

Roanoke City Council had until Tuesday to submit a resolution on one of three options. Option “A” was to leave the current outdated plan as is. Option “B” was the National Park Service’s preferred alternative. It would establish a partnership agreement with the city to manage the Mill Mountain spur road area and convert the campground to day use.

The city balked at that idea since it required a sizable financial commitment.

Council consensus was for Option “C” which was considered to be the most beneficial to the city. This option includes the potential for a parkway information desk and programs at off-site locations and management of the Roanoke Mountain and Mill Mountain spur road areas. Option C would increase the operating budget from $23 million to $226.5 million.

Each option had elements that the city previously opposed. All of the options included a recommendation to close “social trails.”

City Council approved a resolution for Option “C” with modifications that include increased federal funding for roadway maintenance and provided reasonable and safe access for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to the parkway before closing social trails.

Support for unpaved multi-use trails designed for shared use by hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians; Accommodation for Parkway bicycle use with paved shoulders rather than adding separate paved bike paths; Creation of a seamless connection from the Parkway corridor through the Mill Mountain spur to Mill Mountain Park and connect the Chestnut Ridge Loop to the Wood Thrush Trail and other trails in the Mill Mountain Park; Link Parkway trails to the Roanoke Valley Greenway system and work with the Roanoke ValIey Greenway Commission to extend the Roanoke River Greenway to Explore Park.

For more information on the plan go to parkplanning.nps.gov/blueridgeparkway.

Other Council Business:

The Roanoke Arts Commission will purchase the “Trojan Dog” which will be recreated by the artist Ann Glover in fiberglass. The fiberglass piece will take the place of the wooden “Trojan Dog” in front of the fire station on Memorial Avenue. This is a partnership project with Raleigh Court Civic League, which will provide $5,600 in funds

– Roanoke City employees will have the Friday before the Christmas weekend as a paid holiday in addition to Monday the day after Christmas.

– Gator Pool swimming facility’s 20-year lease of city-owned land expired in June 2011. With consideration of the improvements at their sole expense, the 1.36 parcel located adjacent to Fishburn Park Elementary School was conveyed to Roanoke Valley Swimming, Inc. for $10.

RVS will continue to have joint use of an adjacent city-owned parking lot through a separate license agreement with the City. The property will continue to be used for its community swimming programs.

– Assistant City Attorney Tim Spencer was appointed Acting Roanoke City Attorney until a permanent replacement for William Hackworth, who is retiring on December 31, is appointed. Spencer joined the city attorney’s office in 2004 and has primarily provided legal services to the school system, police and fire/EMS..