Friday, January 13, 2012

Elmwood Park redo gets ready for city council adoption

The first conceptual designs were presented for public input in October 2011. The accumulated comments from those sessions combined with online comments were used to craft a final concept design that was presented at the main library Thursday.

The wish list of amenities from stakeholders doubled the cost to over 8 million. That design was on display on a “far” wall for the future. The affordable Phase I was the real deal on display that met the $4 million dollars that was budgeted.

Rena Cromer with the Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates said that she was very upset about the late notice for the public viewing. A notice went out the day before and she said no RNA members were informed. “They had my name and email address from the last meeting,” she said.

She felt that the short noticed showed “they already made there decision and don’t want our input.”

The four main entrances serve the four populated buildings – the Patrick Henry apartments, Meridium Inc., Jefferson College and the entrance from the Market Square.

Ron McCorkle, President of the RNA said the design and entrances are for downtown residents and the people are “left out” pointing to where the main entrances are positioned.

City council will presumably give the OK to move forward at Tuesday’s 2:00 p.m. meeting. The concept is finalized for council presentation and is purported to have last minute comments included. It is too late now to change anything said Steve Buschor, the parks and recreation director.

Steve Boucher, Ron McCorkle, David Hill, Stephen Lemon, Atty, Phil Shermer

Hill Studios prepared the final plan. It turns Bullitt Avenue into an Art Walk. Parking on Bullitt will be gone but vehicles for Social Security building employees will be permitted to enter to park by possibly using a carded gate. The Art Walk is 20 feet wide and can accommodate cars and pedestrians. The carded gate is not set in stone explained Phil Shermer, city engineer.

Shermer was anxious to get started saying, “it is a good bid time.” Construction has slowed to a crawl in the down economy.

The Tailgate Walk is along Jefferson Street. The parallel parking will be changed to diagonal parking. Diagonal parking will add 8 spaces and will allow motorists to “back into” the spaces. Vendors can use them for “tailgating” during festivals.

The Saucer Magnolia Allee will replace the walkway from Market Square. Gone will be the lily ponds that were kept mostly covered anyway.

The Performance Venue is the realigned stage. The majority of the grading will take place in the arena. It will be turned into a terraced bowl-like grassy seating for 1800 facing the stage. In front of the stage will be an interactive water fountain where attendees can get their feet or anything else wet.

According to Buschor only the black walnut trees will be removed. He said that 70 more trees would be added. There will be rocks to play on, a concession area for 120 vendors and green space ready for a Phase II.

Shermer said they would concentrate construction first on the Art Walk (Bullitt Avenue) and the Saucer Magnolia Allee and hope to get that done in 2012. To avoid disruption of warm weather events the performance area grading will take place in off-season. They hope for a warm winter.

Buford Overstreet

The $4 million cost breaks down with the stage, grading, water fountain area costing more then half the total budgeted – $2.2 million. The Art Walk is about half a million and the Saucer Magnolia Allee another half million. The balance covers the Tailgate Walk, garden and green spaces.

Buford Overstreet strolled by the conceptual designs. He has consistently claimed that he could do the whole thing much cheaper. “I can do everything they are doing here and make it more accessible, make it more adaptable and make it safer for $500,000.”

Overstreet who lives in Roanoke County said, “it will be pretty but I hate to see money wasted.”

Shermer and Overstreet got into a heated dialogue ending with Shermer asking him to be respectful. Shermer told Overstreet, “It ought to be what the citizens of Roanoke want.”

Once council gives the go-ahead to move forward it will take 3 to 4 months to complete the architectural plans. The project is uses all local businesses and besides Hill Studios includes – Spectrum Design, Mattern and Craig engineering, Stagesound and 1717 Design.



Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events

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Comments (3)

Ron McCorkle

January 15th, 2012 at 7:11 PM    

I was pleased with design process and the outcome overall. I also feel encourage by the promise the designers and Steve Bouchor gave of including “grand entrances” at all of the entrances. The concept draft did not show improved entrances for the OSW and SE neighborhoods. I was told they would be in the notes presented along with the drawing and that they would also be approved by City Council. Good work!


January 16th, 2012 at 2:00 AM    

Ron, It will be interesting to hear what is said during the presentation. It is up on with the agenda for Tuesday.

Jack Mcguire

January 16th, 2012 at 3:18 PM    

Roanoke has already spent way too much on this BS. The park is fine as it is.

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