Pride in Service
Last week the Council gathered for their annual strategic planning retreat where they heard briefings on homelessness, increasing costs due to inflation and supply issues, workforce concerns due in part to compensation challenges along with opportunities associated with economic development, increased federal funding on infrastructure and more. This year, the retreat included a tour of recently completed or currently under construction capital projects. These included renovations in the Oliver W Hill Justice Center, a large stormwater project near Williamson Road, new athletic courts and playgrounds in northwest Roanoke, street paving projects in the Raleigh Court area, Fire Station 7, the former Richardson Wayland property adjacent to the Roanoke River greenway recently acquired to consolidate parks and recreation offices and equipment, the site of the demolished Ramada Inn on Franklin Road and the recently completed improvements at Rivers Edge Park in the Innovation Corridor.
However, the two highlights were not surprisingly, related not to buildings or places but rather to the people that provide the services we all rely upon day in and day out and the equipment they rely upon and the projects they work on.
Sweeping the Streets
A part of the tour included a stop by a municipal facility few in the public likely even are aware exists, the Public Works Service Center which houses the equipment and people that take care of our streets, storm drains, parks, equipment and more. Over the past few years, the Council has invested over $5 million in this facility and associated equipment, ensuring these essential employees have the spaces and equipment they need to excel at their jobs. Equipment Operator Don Hamilton shared with the Council the street sweeper he uses each day, keeping our streets safe and debris out of our stormwater system and streams. All the while he beamed with pride in what he does and does well, exclaiming that of all the places he had worked none were better than the City of Roanoke. Don was joined by personnel from Parks and Recreation, Stormwater Utility, Solid Waste, and other departments, each sharing the great work they do.
Protecting our Water
A short distance e away, in Washington Park, two equally enthusiastic and dedicated employees, Curry McWilliams and McKenzie Brocker explained the Lick Creek stream restoration project that removed invasive species, eliminated streambank erosion that had exposed a sanitary sewer pipe and helped create in its place a stream with a restored riparian buffer filled with appropriate plants that will evolve with time that filters rain water as it moves through the park creating a more natural and accommodating environment for plants, insects and animals and people. This project includes new pedestrian access to the park, interpretive signs about the restoration and helps slow and better manage water during significant storm events.
Great People Make a Great Organization
In both of these instances it was readily evident what I already know - we have great people in Roanoke doing great work. I am appreciative of the Council’s interest in spending a part of their day out seeing the great work they have helped make happen on behalf of the residents and businesses and Roanoke and most importantly take the time to engage in the folks doing the work.
All together for the betterment of the community and those that call it home - that is Roanoke!
— Bob Cowell