Wednesday, March 24, 2010

They thought the new city manager would be different

They thought he would be different. New city manager Chris Morrill met with two dozen neighbors and golfers at the blocked entrance to Countryside Golf Club Wednesday evening.

Assistant manager Brian Townsend and Ken Cronin General Services and Sustainability Director were Morrill’s support team. The evening was a heart-wrenching experience for the  Northwest neighborhood. The pain they have endured in the past five years spilled out in tears and frustration.

The City purchased the golf course in 2005 planning to make it into an urban “village center.” The idea quickly died with no developer seeing the vision.

The neighborhood says they are unable to sell their devalued properties at any price. Instead of a green well-manicured fairway they will soon have a field of tall grass that will slowly erase the memory of once was serene and beautiful. There is also the treacherous crater-like sinkhole waiting for person or pet to snare.

Adding insult to injury are what one can only be describe as cement bomb barricades  that welcomes visitors to their neighborhood.

The promise to not sell off the property piece by piece has been erased from the city’s memory. They just might be offered (seeming more like an ultimatum) portions of the 10, 11, 12 fairways “gifted” by the city by way of a HOA (Home Owners Association). The mostly senior citizens would have to improve it, pay taxes on it and mow it. The older Ranch Road townhomes are mostly rental. Home owners are on fixed incomes.

One neighbor remarked “they must think we live in South Roanoke.”

The communication was harsh and tears were shed by golfers and neighbors. They tried to explain the pain that the closure of the Ellis Maples golf course was causing the community.

This Northwest area is the most diverse unsegregated neighborhood in the city claimed one resident. It is the model of how diversity works. Friendly neighbors at your door at a moments notice if needed.

Neighbors asked that the dangerous situation with the sinkhole be fixed and grass mowed at the same frequency as parks. They asked that the unsightly barricades on the golf paths and fallen large limbs be removed. None of the requests were met with a “can do” attitude.

The consensus from all that came to the meeting was a sense of dashed hopes that the new city manager would be different.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community

Tags: , ,

Comments (3)


March 25th, 2010 at 1:07 AM    

It seems the city has “short term memory” problems. They were very specific in a meeting we had several years ago that the reason the city purchased the golf course was so it would NOT be sold off piece by piece. We were told they were “protecting us”. What a joke! It only took about 5 minutes to realize that the new city manager is just a parrot of the powers that be in the city. MAYBE he’s only telling us what he’s been told without researching it himself. However, I didn’t get the idea that he was even really interested. He talked about the city not having money. Maybe that’s true; but if it is, why did they sell the Colonial Green property for less than $40??? Why did they sell the YMCA for (as best as I can recall) $1??? Why did they just sell the Commonwealth Building for less than assessed value no matter which set of figures you look at??? I’d like to hear their answers to the money the city lost on those sales. I know. They will say they have an agreement with some of the purchasers; yet, when deadlines come (and go) there is extension after extension granted IF you are the right person.


March 25th, 2010 at 4:26 PM    

Once this course is gone it cannot be brought back…what a waste and how stupid can the city get!!!!!! This could have allowed the schools to have golf and tennis teams but I guess they don’t care about the students or the plight of the homeowners…only the city market!!!!! Let’s hope the new city manager can look into what is going on with all the backdoor politics and think for himself instead of being led by the likes of Brian Townsend and his cronies!!!!!


April 5th, 2010 at 8:05 PM    

This city council will go down in history as being the WORSE council EVER. Ten years from now, those serving on council will look back and KNOW that the decision to close Countryside Golf Course was the most devastating decision this city ever made. Allowing beautiful property to turn into a wasteland while it still has an outstanding debt is not good ecomonics. I had hoped that Chris Morrill would bring new insight to this situation, but I guess Council got to him first.

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