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Roanoke Free Press
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Northwest gives as the city takes

Countryside Golf Course

Countryside Golf Course

Countryside (where’s the park?), Dorchester Court (Huff Lane school – wasn’t that part of their neighborhood?) and Evans Spring (good luck to them and their future).

All these are neighborhoods in Northwest that the city is drooling over for tax revenue. The city takes from Northwest and gives to downtown. Neighborhoods will take a back seat.

The Countryside park design phase and neighborhood input was completed February 1, 2012. The first phase went back to September of 2011. The start and completion dates keep slipping. It was to be engineered in Spring of 2012 and completed sometime in the Summer than the Fall and then per presentation to city council by the director of Parks and Recreation last year it was to be completed by May 2013.

The excuses keep coming and now, if it is to believed, it will complete in October. Elmwood Park will complete in August. When the city has a priority it gets done. When it goes over budget by one million that mysterious handy-dandy cash fund comes to the rescue. Then there is the cash-funded Market Square that popped up for $650,000.

The bonds for the Countryside park were issued in 2012 per the director of finance Ann Shawver. It will be 8 years since the city bought the property (May, 2005 option to purchase). It will be three years since the golf course was closed (March 1, 2010).

Dorchester Court neighbors were the victim of a smooth talker who sold them the idea of hotels where the Huff Lane Elementary school sits vacant. When they realized the enormity of the project they rallied but I fear a little too late.

What is for certain and no one can dispute that a neighborhood school like Huff Lane is part of the neighborhood and not part of Valley View Mall. Those pesky proffers and promises just seem to slip away at the city’s convenience.

The Dorchester neighborhood was promised no more commercial encroachment would occur after Valley View Mall and boulevard were completed. Sure the $1.7 million is needed for Round Hill but a little more consultation with the neighborhood would have been nice before the biding started rather than let the smooth talker lull them into a sense of complacency.

The Evans Spring Master plan goes before the Planning Commission today at 1:30 p.m. The Huff Lane property rezoning goes before council February 19.

The Countryside neighborhood waits for the park, waits on the unwanted Sports Complex and the next shoe to drop in the form of another amendment to the Countryside Master Plan.

Northwest gives and gives and the city takes and takes.

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