Sunday, April 15, 2007

Green Trails vs Paving Trials

Green Trails vs Paving Trials

Countryside is a very special piece of property. As a child, I remember the old farmhouse located in the tall oak trees next to what is now Ranch Road. Behind the farmhouse, there was rolling pastureland extending all the way to Woodrum Field and small streams bubbling from springs near what is now Laurel Ridge Road.

When the golf course was opened in 1967, much of the original openness and integrity of the land remained intact. Ellis Maples, course designer, worked with the natural lay of the land to craft his beautiful course.

When the City of Roanoke bought the 127-acre Countryside tract, it bought one of the largest if not the largest piece of green space within the city. Now, that green space is threatened. Within that space are an amazingly diverse animal and plant population. I personally have stopped to watch deer, red foxes, and gray foxes slinking around the course. A variety of snakes, lizards, and frogs abound. All kinds of birds can be found, most notably red-tailed hawks and the scissor-tailed flycatcher. This bird is fascinating to watch with its abnormally long tail.

I fully understand the city’s belief that the land should be developed; however, I believe that in a valley where air pollution is an increasing problem, where water quality is always a concern, where increased pavement has caused storm water drainage problems; the Countryside tract should be preserved as a largely open space. I would like to see it kept as a golf course.

Since 1995 the Roanoke Valley has been involved in developing greenways across the valley. Much progress has been made. While not addressed in the conceptual plan directly, I believe that Countryside and especially the Frontage Road area offer some unique opportunities for greenway development. I envision a network of roadside bike and walking paths winding through the existing road network. Utilizing Frontage Road, a fitness trail could easily be laid out between Hershberger and Peter’s Creek Roads.

As the property stands now, people are already using the network of roads as running trails. What’s lacking now is a safety factor. Dedicated lanes would add a degree of safety.

A low environmental impact series of trails utilizing the existing road network would go far to providing a much needed recreation outlet. Preserving the existing green spaces in and around Countryside may be a difficult concept for some to consider, but I believe that it is vital to helping preserve the overall health and beauty of our valley, our home.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

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