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Elmwood Design Stays on Track

March 9, 2011

The need for a better outdoor music and entertainment venue at Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke took another step toward reality this week. City Council tabled the project a while ago due to the economy and the obvious need to stay within our city debt limits. At the last meeting when capital projects were discussed, city council unanimously instructed the City Manager to re-work the design internally with desires to focus on downsizing the project, allowing for phasing of construction, an eye toward preserved green space and more park usage — specifically starting with an improved stage/back of house/access and restrooms for our many successful festivals and concerts in the park. Previous studies have been done with experts in the field showing potential success of an outdoor venue in downtown Roanoke. The idea was to use these studies that did indeed come at a cost to help with this design to allow the project to progress to the construction bidding process.

On Monday, City Council was asked to consider allocating $300,000 to complete designs for the park based on our desire to downsize the project; start with the staging and grading; allow for phasing of future amenities based on demand; redesign the park for better green space; and redesign the back of the library to allow better daily park and library usage (for example, restrooms and a cafe with outdoor dining).

Roanoke does have a history of studying things forever and failing to use the studies to make informed decisions and move on one way or another. I am very aware of this and try daily to avoid this. In this case, it is absolutely not another study. It is the reasonable next step in an unfortunately long progression (thank you economy) to assuring that Roanoke has a signature urban city park worthy to continue to host the amazingly successful events and festivals that are indeed Roanoke. A park and stage worthy of our progressive mid-sized city. A park with events that will stoke economic development throughout our region, especially in downtown and will continue to add our growing vibe as an outdoor, green, music city.

If we can get to documents that can be put out to bid for $300,000 and we stay on track with the next step- we have made a good move and a good decision and have gotten a bargain. The next step cannot happen without these type of documents and designs made with a reflection to our history, studies done to date and public input on the newest, albeit downsized, plans. It is a logical and good next step.

What are your thoughts?

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