Monday, September 20, 2010

Statement to be read at Roanoke City Council for Monday

UPDATE 6:45 p.m. Residents who took leave time to attend city council were not permitted to speak at the 2:00 p.m. Countryside property briefing. No mention was made when calling to sign-up. Chris Chittum, Planning Department Administrator  thought we would be able to speak. One speaker was the owner of the Countryside Estates apartment complex Richard Dickerson who lives in North Carolina.

Councilman Ray Ferris called the citizens who took time off from work to be there “single-minded” 18-hole golf course advocates. Ferris claims to be able to read minds. Both he and councilman Bill Bestpitch now want a citizen’s committee (leaving out the neighborhoods) to be formed to work around the residents. Ferris and Bestpitch berated the residents who came then left after learning they could not speak to the presentation. The residents had already heard it before and could not bare listening to false golf data and left out comments of extreme importance. One “environmental impact” that keeps being overlooked is the asbestos irrigation system that permeates the golf course. The pool has remnants of asbestos as well. One attendee called Ferris a “pompous ass” and Bestpitch just a plane “horse’s ass.”

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ROANOKE – Countryside golf course property: We came to the briefing in hopes of keeping in tacked what little “good will” that was built between the Planning Department and the residents.

It turned into another “bash a golf course” exercise that served to overshadow everything else said today.

Perhaps this was in response to the neighborhood “input” meetings. The first and only desire was to keep what we once had … the community asset that made our diverse community something special. The golf course, the swimming pool and tennis building – we want our community back. We want the pavilion where we held our May neighborhood month and National night out picnics.

We are tired of being slapped in the face with figures pulled from this source or that source to justify why it can’t be a golf course – we were told everything was on the table.

The reality of the last five years has been to brush under the rug the decline of the golf course. It began as soon as the city purchased it. Each last minute lease extension sent tournaments and members elsewhere.

As former councilman Alvin Nash knew first hand – Countryside Golf Course has never been subsidized. He knew it, we know it and no amount of plucked from a website comparison will make it so.

If subsidies rule then close down the pools with declining patronage, close the civic center, privatize Elmwood Park instead of building an amphitheater that will be subsidized to the tune of half a million dollars. It’s a matter of priorities and we in the upper Northwest quadrant are at the bottom.

I was looked in the eye and promised it would never be “sliced and diced” as I wrote in a Roanoke Times Commentary a couple years ago.

Others reveled in the decision to give the golf course a try for at least five years. Then only to turn around and be the first to shut it down in a closed-session.

The RFP to manage the golf course for five years went on for nine months. The one worthless developer was given a whole year of worthless time to develop a worthless plan – all neighbors saw were stall tactics from one council to another.

The vision 2020 – the Peters Creek North plan? We had no input into that and those who remember it say the end result was not recognizable. It is not our vision.

Yes, we are all bitter and that will not change. Whatever you decide will negatively effect our property values. The minute the golf course was shut down you devalued our property by $20k at least. This is no way to attract new residents to the city.

Those who revel in our demise need to walk a mile in our shoes – they haven’t and they should keep quite. That includes the Roanoke Times Editorial Board who make pronouncements from the solitude of their cubicles.

What you haven’t heard from voices in the Economic Development focus group, realtors, developers, and parks and recreation stakeholder meetings: They all asked “why can’t it be a golf course – the property needs something to draw residents – recreation is a form of economic development.” If the planning commission is going to be calling the shots then I suggest they examine the property as one admitted to never seeing it – sort of like council members who voted to buy it never saw it either.

The bottom line is what many especially in Northwest told us five years ago, “the city is going to do what they want anyway” – so in other words why bother.

My answer to that is “injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.” What if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had given up?

Valerie Garner, President, Countryside Neighborhood Alliance (Subject to change)

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Politics, Roanoke County Politics

Tags: , ,

Comments (3)

Josie

September 22nd, 2010 at 2:47 PM    


Valerie Garner, you suck. Yuck.

Val

September 22nd, 2010 at 6:40 PM    


Ahh, Josie flattery will get you no where.


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