Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Countryside neighborhood being railroaded

“The city is going to do what it wants to do” said those who sat back and witnessed the Countryside golf course’s demise. Golfers just couldn’t believe that the golf course would ever close. Others who had fell prey to the fruitless efforts in opposition to an attack by the city said they will get their way no matter how the neighborhood resists. Reason and common sense will never prevail they said. It is all about  money, political pressure and an unwillingness to upset the status quo.

The Northwest Recreation and Roanoke Valley Youth Soccer proposal for the property is out and the Master Plan that the Planning Commission and neighborhood worked on for the better part of a year is toast. What a waste of our time and theirs.

Soccer fields in the back yard instead of an urban farm. Neighbors can expect regional basketball, soccer, tennis tournaments, NCAA events and professional matches according to the proposal. The proposal has been in the works since March according to the date on the letters of support and probably since the “no chicken” consortium got their way.

They want agriculture off the table and recreation instead. This proposal though is not what they had in mind. However, I sadly and surprisingly became aware of the resentment felt by the adjoining neighborhood. In an irate email following the last Planning Commission meeting it became painfully clear. It said, since your side got all the money, we’re gonna do what we have to do for our side and that’s the end of that!!!!!”

NRC/RVYSC propose no upfront purchase or lease money. They will however buy the property for $1 in 40 years. They paint a rosy picture of taxes flowing into the city – that is if their “capital campaign” for millions comes through.

Instead of putting all the fields in one place the city is proposing three fields in the middle of the neighborhood. That is the purpose of an amendment to change the 12-acre parcel that is designated for agriculture in the Master Plan to recreation. The parcel was the result of a poor trade with the airport authority to widen a runway protection zone. The greenway will be used for pedestrian traffic from the tennis building. The golf course parking lot will be used for tournament attendance until the unlikely event that someone will develop it. The William Fleming High School parking lot will be an option when not in use.

Tournament attendees will park as close as they can – that will be on the residential streets.

Splitting the fields with the neighborhood in-between is the worst possible scenario. How far we’ve come since 2005 when we envisioned our neighborhood home values swirling down the devaluation toilet. The big flush came when the golf course closed in 2010 and this “plunger” will finish us off.

What are they thinking with this plan. A plan concocted by the city, parks and recreation and NRC/RVYSC. The neighborhood has no chance for sanity as they dangle occupancy tax revenue in front of council. We’ll be trampled under the pressure to fulfill the Parks and Recreation Master Plan need for fields.

Neighborhoods don’t matter. No developer will build a town center here with a sportsplex in the backyard. Of course concession stands and umbrella rentals might make a go of it.

Will common sense prevail and will the Master Plan be upheld or will the Planning Commission cave to the city’s demands to do something, anything with the property that was in theory suppose to yield a healthy neighborhood.

A whiff of which way the Planning Commission wind blows will be tested Friday. Advice from a member was “get out now.” I have my “For Sale” sign all ready for that.

The Planning Commission public hearing is July 19.

Note: The Roanoke Times Editorial Board member Luanne Rife refused to accept my op-ed saying in an email “we will decline to publish it as you are a reporter for another publication.” Interestingly they accepted them in the past under “President of Countryside Neighborhood Alliance.” Rife is the wife of Richard Rife the architect hired by NRC.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

Tags: ,


No Comments

Comments are not moderated. Notify any abuse at put ABUSE in the subject and the offensive post.

Leave a Reply