Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Place to Gather

This is part two of a blogoseries that looks at my views of how the Countryside property in Roanoke City should be developed. These are strictly my views and not those of any organization; however, if any organization would like to use any of these ideas in efforts to save the Countryside parcel from hideous development, you certainly have my wholehearted permission.

A Place to Gather

Abingdon already has it. Roanoke County is catching on. What is it? It is a community/recreation center. In many circles, such facilities are called multi-generational centers. Such a center would be an excellent fit for the Countryside property both esthetically and functionally.

Creating a community/recreation center would go hand-in-hand with the revitalization of the aquatics and tennis facility. The site of the old pool, club house, and tennis structure would be an excellent location for this new structure. It could even expand down to the corner of Ferncliff Ave. across from the new William Fleming High School.

Recently, the Roanoke Valley YMCA has greatly expanded its indoor recreation facilities in the valley. The new Kirk family YMCA is an excellent resource for the community. The same holds true for the new Salem YMCA. Each of these has managed to intertwine exercise rooms, pools, meeting rooms, child watch rooms, gymnasium, and walking track inside a physical plant that carries a relatively small footprint. The land space between the existing first fairway and club parking lot at Countryside is ideal for a similar facility.

The Salem and Downtown YMCA’s have proven that there is a true need for such facilities in the valley. Each center is heavily utilized by the public. Yet there is no such facility anywhere in the northwest city quadrant.

Having a community/recreation facility across the street from William Fleming will offer lots of positive, supervised opportunities for youth. That alone should be reason enough to develop this center at that location. Programs could be developed to attract all ages of participants making this center truly an anchor for the community.

A smartly planned community/recreation center need not compromise the integrity of the surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, it may be viewed as a positive, low impact development of property that has been long neglected. Couple that with the fact that the neighboring community would be able to access the buildings for community meetings of clubs and civic organizations.

Roanoke City, able to boast of such a facility along with the tract revitalizations and low-impact development suggested here, would be well-positioned to attract businesses and home buyers into the city core. It simply makes logical sense. It simply would be a wise investment in human capital.

Posted By Valerie Garner

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