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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Oct 10

A Year of Getting Things Done

Posted to City Manager's Blog by Casey Lewis

Recently, the Council gathered for their annual Strategic Planning Retreat, reviewing the current plan, discussing necessary revisions and beginning to plan for its update and the upcoming budget.  As has been their custom, the retreat began with a discussion of accomplishments over the past year and then challenges, both present and possible in the future.

This week’s post includes the accomplishments shared at the retreat.  The list, while not all-encompassing is representative of much of the great work accomplished by the Council and City staff in the previous fiscal year - July 2021 through June 2022.

Next week’s post will focus on the challenges presented and discussed at the retreat, followed by an overview of the actions taken or planned by Council and City staff to address each of these.

  • Secured funding to acquire and demo a collection of flood-prone properties including the former Ramada Inn
  • Acquired the Ramada Inn and initiated demolition
  • Melrose Streetscape as conclusion of work in the Melrose Orange Target Area
  • Secured additional grant funding for the Financial Empowerment Center
  • No Need to Speed Campaign
  • Re-opened public pools
  • Brandon Road Complete Streets Project
  • First (and second) Iron Man
  • Appointment of Clarence Grier as Deputy City Manager
  • Issued $33 million in bonds for CIP – record low interest rate
  • Secured renewed credit rating status from each of the three major credit rating agencies
  • Initiated construction on the new Transit Transfer Station – including initiating temporary operations
  • Completed transaction with Campbell Court property – demolition complete and construction underway
  • Initiated implementation of Public Safety Step Pay Plan – pay increases for police, fire-EMS and Sheriff’s Office
  • Initiated the preparation of Organization-wide Compensation Assessment
  • Issuance of hazard, retention and recruitment bonuses
  • Establishment of $15/hr minimum wage for City workforce
  • Convened the Star City Strong Recovery and Resiliency Fund Advisory Panel – ARPA funds
  • Initiated implementation of the Star City Strong Advisory Panel recommendations – ARPA funds
  • $1.7 million in deferred parks maintenance items completed
  • National League of Cities Equitable Economic Mobility Initiative – Gainsboro
  • Renaming of Lee Plaza – Freedom Plaza and Henrietta Lacks Plaza
  • Opening of the Roanoke River Greenway connection with Salem- Barnhardt Creek Bridge – Liz Belcher Plaza
  • Youth and Gang Violence Assessment
  • Youth and Gang Violence Outreach Team formed
  • Initiated Reimagine Recreation Center Plan
  • Opioid Abatement Fund Settlement Agreement
  • Installment of the Welcome to Roanoke Art Exhibit on the 4th floor of the Municipal Building
  • GO Fest – Downtown for first time
  • Secured State funding for shared lab space in the Innovation Corridor - $16 million State plus $2 million local – Carilion, VTC, VTF, Johnson Labs
  • Welcoming Week Celebrations
  • Shuttered Venue Grants ($8+ million) for COVID relief
  • Formation of the Youth Athletics Review Board
  • Initiated Star City Safe Effort
  • Implementation of the Plastic Bag Tax
  • Initiated the Language Access Services Program
  • All-America City Finalist
  • Sidewalk Camping Ordinance
  • Naming of Washington Park Basketball Courts – Ricky Renell Wright
  • Leadership Diversity & Equity Workshop – Equity Action Plans
  • Initiated Year of the Artist Campaign
  • State Resurgence Grant – Gainsboro
  • Restarted Leadership College
  • Opening of first Futsal Court
  • Opening of new downtown hotel
  • Completion of the downtown escalator replacement project
  • Initiation of HUD Healthy Homes program
  • Funding and Administrative support for Brownfields Grant – Walker Foundry property
  • Submitted at $324 million balanced budget
  • Initiated first City Economic Development Strategic Plan
  • Initiated Neighborhood Centers Analysis/Plan
  • Initiated Joint Master Plan Development – Evans Spring – City, EDA, Landowners
  • Initiated National League of Cities Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant
  • Reinstated Annual Youth Summit
  • Authorization to issue $48 million in bonds for CIP
  • Law Library relocated
  • Completed the remodel of the Gainsboro Branch Library
  • Received a donation of 41,778 books valued at $538,000.   This donation to the Roanoke Public Libraries was the Soho Center’s largest donation to a single public library.
  • Began implementation of the Assistant City Manager – Apprentice program
  • Continued improvements at the Wood Haven Technology Park
  • Launched a Spanish-version of the City’s webpage
  • Updated a number of City personnel policies including Remote Work and Marijuana Use
  • Welcomed an increased number of Afghan Refugees to our community following U.S. extraction from Afghanistan
  • Enacted a number of Zoning Code Amendments to further implementation of Comprehensive Plan - Eliminating the minimum parking requirements in all zoning districts throughout the City, permitting “accessory apartments” in all residential zoning districts in the City and Creating accessory uses for both “electric vehicle charging stations” and “solar energy systems” to embrace new energy efficient technologies
  • Initiated COVID test kit programs in library branches
  • Hidden in Plain Sight Funding Assistance
  • Urban Renewal and the Berglund Civic Center – a series of initiatives to honor the history of what preceded the Civic Center, the impact of urban renewal and to begin to forge a new path forward with the Gainsboro Neighborhood.  
  • The Public Works Service Center Improvements - an automated brine facility, a decanting facility, a water reclamation system, storm drain improvements, three covered storage buildings, and associated work.  The project has a value of $5,000,000 and has an estimated completion date of January 2023.  
  • The Roanoke River Greenway – Bridge the Gap construction - approximately 1 mile of a 10’ wide asphalt path from Bridge Street to the Norfolk Southern Material Yard. Work involves constructing a pedestrian bridge, installing retaining walls, earthwork and storm drainage. With the completion of the project, the Roanoke River Greenway will be continuous for approximately 10 miles within the City limits. The project has a value of $6,100,000 and has an estimated completion date of August 2023.  
  • Courthouse Renovations - renovating the J&D Courts area and upgrading the Sheriff’s Security Station at the entrance of the Courthouse.  The project has a value of $1,800,000 and has an estimated completion date of June 2022.  
  • RCPS Joint Use Agreement – 20-year agreement
  • Plan Review and inspections for Carilion Clinic Expansion - the ten-story tower--eight stories above grade and two stories of underground parking—will include trauma care, a new Emergency Room, and a second helicopter pad.
  • Honored Ukraine with raising of Ukraine flag at Freedom Plaza
  • 2022 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championship – For the first time Roanoke will be hosting the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championship
  • Roanoke Capital Access Fund - The City of Roanoke’s Economic Development Authority “EDA” is partnering with Freedom First offering Roanoke City licensed businesses the opportunity to apply for a business loan through the Roanoke Capital Access Fund.  In order to apply, City of Roanoke businesses must hold a current business license, must utilize accelerator and mentoring programs including the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program “RAMP”, the Advancement Foundation’s Gauntlet, or the Roanoke Small Business Development Center, and must be entrepreneurs, businesses and/or higher education professionals working to create opportunities and success in research, healthcare and technology.
  • Neighborhood Month Activities – May
  • Melrose-Rugby entrance monuments restoration
  • Roanoke Higher Education Center Gainsboro Walkway Dedication – The dedication of the walkway connecting the main Higher Education Center building and the Culinary Training Institute
  • The William & Margaret Robertson Behavioral Health Wing, a 1,900-foot expansion which includes six counseling rooms and group counseling space at the Bradley Free Clinic.  This expansion benefitted from CDBG funding
  • GFOA Distinguished Budget Award
  • $2 million for deferred Parks maintenance – largest funding in decades
  • Acquisition of Richardson-Wayland property for relocation of Parks and Recreation operations and equipment storage
  • Marc Nelson appointed as Economic Development Director

 - Bob Cowell

Jan 25

Roanoke Recap January 25, 2023

Posted to Roanoke Recap by Carol Corbin

Collaboration to Transform Southeast Roanoke Property into Riverdale District Announced

The City of Roanoke, the Roanoke Economic Development Authority, and local developer, Ed Walker, are collaborating and co-investing on a transformation of the former American Viscose Plant in Southeast Roanoke. Over the next several years, the collaboration will preserve elements of its industrial heritage while gradually transforming parts of the former industrial site into Riverdale, a 75+ acre mixed-use district featuring industrial spaces, residences, commercial uses, artist studios, maker spaces and manufacturing. Riverdale will be fully integrated into adjacent natural and recreation areas including the Greenway, Roanoke River, and Mill Mountain.

Riverdale

The agreement that establishes the collaborative investment was approved at the January 17 City Council meeting and includes a $10 million forgivable performance loan facilitating property acquisition, addressing immediate environmental and master-planning needs, and removal of debris currently on the site. This agreement requires and catalyzes at least $50 million of private investment and development. An economic study prepared by Chmura Economics indicates that the first phase alone could generate more than $300 million in economic impact, supporting 2,000 jobs in the process.

Vote for the Roanoke River for Best Urban Kayaking Spot 2023

The Roanoke River is one of the nominees for Best Urban Kayaking Spot for 2023 for the USA TODAY 10Best contest! Voting is open, and you can vote daily through February 6.

We are in the chase for the top spot, but we need your help. Make sure you click the link and vote for the Roanoke River today.

Let's help the Roanoke River win this award for the 2nd consecutive year!

Vote: http://bit.ly/3pb4KTZ

river kayak

Swift Water Rescue Training

Check out what some of our swift water team has been up to lately! These B-shifters spent their off-duty day on the James River at Balcony Falls honing their skills in paddle craft operations. ??

swift water rescue

Thanks Capt. Robert Reid, Lt. Nick Sosik, Lt. Jonathan Metro, FF Daniel Driver, FF Kalin Conn, and FF Thomas Schacter for getting out there and getting it done, despite the frigid temps! ??

City of Roanoke Awarded Funds for the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program

Exciting news from Governor Glenn Youngkin's office! ??

It was announced on January 16, that the City of Roanoke was awarded funds for the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program. These funds will further develop Tract 8 located in the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology (RCIT).

Learn more about this announcement and Virginia Business Ready Sites Program at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/2023/january/name-989977-en.html?fbclid=IwAR08F06vK1t_kg3juG5It4DcJnu0vY0vwgJpyBx25hS1b5wMJpNx8uf3leg