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City Manager's Blog

Learn about the City of Roanoke from the City Manager's point of view.

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Jul 20

Other Work is Still Underway

Posted on July 20, 2020 at 1:52 PM by Melinda Mayo

Understandably, much of our attention has been on COVID-19 and its impact on our community.  Yet still, just as we have continued to provide essential services 24/7, we continue to progress on a number of projects and initiatives.  This week, I want to highlight a few of these.

E911/811 Center

Roughly two years ago, ground was broken for an innovative partnership, combining the communication centers for Roanoke E911 and Virginia 811.  This 31,000-square-foot facility with a cost of $16 million (a little over $9 million being the City’s share), provides a state-of-the-art facility for the City personnel that handle the more than 250,000 emergency calls annually, and the more than 1 million calls handled by Miss Utility addressing utility locations.  The building has been finished for several weeks, the public art has been installed near its entrance, and a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for early next month.

Fire Station #7

Work on Fire Station #7 in Grandin Village began with the salvaging and demolition of the station that had served the community for nearly 100 years.  With the help of Black Dog Salvage, a number of components of the old station were salvaged to be incorporated into the new building.  Hundreds of area residents were able to claim commemorative bricks from the station as demolition progressed.  The new station, designed to integrate into the Village provides Fire and EMS personnel modern conveniences and a safe location, which will serve the surrounding neighborhoods for the next 100 years.  It is anticipated the new station will be ready to welcome back personnel, neighbors, and the Trojan Dog statue and be back in service at the end of this year or early next year. A photo of the construction is featured on the Facebook and Twitter posts for this blog, as well as at the end of this blog entry..

South Roanoke e-library Branch

A new electronic library kiosk, the first of its kind in Virginia, is nearing completion in the South Roanoke village center.  This e-library will hold an ever-changing inventory of 500 items, which may be checked out electronically by patrons arriving on foot, bike, scooter, or by automobile.  The design of the project is intended to fit within the center’s architectural aesthetic, and its location is to minimize intrusion onto the central green, which is also home to the oldest active fire station in the City.  It is anticipated the project will be complete and ready to welcome patrons this fall.

River’s Edge Sports Complex

On July 1, the River’s Edge Sports Complex officially reopened after undergoing a year-long upgrade and expansion.  The new offerings include lighted athletic fields, lighted walkway, paved parking areas, vendor space, a fountain, and a connector between the Roanoke River Greenway and Reserve Avenue.  It is anticipated that these improvements are the first of one to two additional phases that will continue to add features and amenities at this recreation facility, located in the Innovation Corridor, and which plays host to Go Fest and the 2021 Carilion Clinic Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Sidewalk and Street Repairs

Throughout the City, crews are engaged in replacing broken or missing sidewalks, repairing adjacent curb and gutter systems, and installing accessible ramps to enhance mobility.  In addition to these projects, miles of City streets are being repaved and restriped, all part of the City’s ongoing efforts at ensuring streets remain safe and continue to last for years to come.  

Financial Empowerment Center and Plan Roanoke

In addition to these physical projects, the City has a couple of notable programs that are ready for completion.  The Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center, a collaboration between the City of Roanoke, Freedom First Enterprises, and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund offers no-cost professional one-on-one financial counseling, beginning later this month.  More than a year has gone into meetings with numerous community partners to make this vital offering available.

The City’s Comprehensive Plan update, Plan Roanoke is nearing adoption, which is anticipated early this fall.  This plan will, for the first time, emphasize health and equity alongside the traditional elements of land use, housing, transportation, etc.  The recently created Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board is a direct result of this nearly two-year long effort, which included hundreds of community members in its drafting.  

These are but a few of the projects and initiatives that continue to progress while we respond to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.  Each of these aid in ensuring our health and safety and maintaining a high quality of life here in our Star City!

— Bob Cowell

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