Monday, July 21, 2008

Roanoke City Council Meeting and Briefing Today

First I’d like to correct the date the expiration of the City’s lease on the airport owned land that serves as the RPZ (Runway Protection Zone) at runway 6. I pulled my copy of the lease and it is November 14th, 2008, not October 31st. October 31st is when the one year lease with the operators of Countryside Golf Course will end. Another detail is that the amount the airport receives from the City is exactly $4,731 per Jesse Hall, previous Director of Finance, email, dated January 10, 2006.

I was so glad Al Steele was able to make the meetings as this lends an extra pair of ears in case I missed anything. We both surmised how much more informative the briefings are compared to the Council meeting where votes are taken.
I mentioned the 40 year lease ending during the 2:00 PM public comments prior to the briefing as I was fairly sure that new Council members and possibly other Council members may not know or remember. This I related to the airport desiring the land swap which I have covered ad nauseum previously.
The other topics were the intersection of Valley View Blvd., Thirlane, and entrance to the airport which every citizen and deplaning visitor to Roanoke knows it to be a confusing mess. However, the City has a plan that was detailed at the briefing. The City would like to move forward with it at a cost of $2 million and hopes of some cost sharing and land from the Airport Commission. It seems the Airport Commission has other ideas so it was indicated that if the Airport Commission does not get off their duff that the City will proceed on its own…. good!
The other topic was the Valley View exchange and Hershberger exchange. This was a very complicated subject that I won’t try to get into here but suffice it to say with VDOT involved, transportation funding staled, and $69 million allocated (which is not enough for both) it is a tangled web … come to think of it all three topics are a puzzle with each piece dependent on another. If this briefing and other briefings were televised it would give citizens a chance to see what the Council and yes, even the administration is up against.
Now back to Countryside lease and land swap – an important date to discuss the land swap with the Airport Commission will be at their joint meeting scheduled for September 2nd. I don’t think the lease will be discussed at that time or at least no decision would be made at the September meeting. This is dependent on the Council briefing (and their direction) on Countryside Golf Course to take place on August 4th (at about 10:00 AM in EOC basement). The results of that briefing and subsequent Council meeting will enable City Administration to formally ask for an extension of the 40 year lease for a period of 5 years. At the briefing, Ms. Burcham stated that the Airport Commission would only consider a maximum extension for 5 years. This length of time is what I anticipate a lease with Meadowbrook will be.
A point Ms. Burcham made regarding a RFP for any new operators of the golf course would absolutely require a multi-year lease. If Meadowbrook did not get the lease extended they would take their equipment (which is substantial), personnel, and any other marbles and go home. Another operator then would incur substantial investment cost to bring in THEIR equipment, hire personnel, etc., making only a long term lease financially feasible for a new operator.
Councilman Court Rosen remembered my suggestion that he get the feasibility study performed back in 2002-2003 to review before the August 4th Countryside briefing. All members of Council asked to get a copy. You remember, the one performed by The Lawrence Group (one page posted below). Hopefully, this will include the detailed drawings of the various options that were supplied as well. I still have them minus a couple that were taken by someone at one of our meetings.



At this point the September 2nd joint meeting with the Airport Commission as well as the briefing on the morning of August 4th are very important.

Posted By Valerie Garner

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