Roanoke determining "Vision Plan" for next 20 years

By Rob Manch - Reporter
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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The City of Roanoke is trying to determine what it will look like in 20 years, and it's getting input from the people living there.

It's the first time the city has updated its "Vision Plan" since 2002.

The "Vision Plan" is different from a development plan.

Instead of a definite, planned project, it's more of a picture of how people would like to see their community look moving forward.

Tuesday night, that vision was about making downtown a self-sustaining community.

There was an air of excitement in the City Market Building Tuesday as people living in Roanoke thought about what could be a few years down the road.

"I want to take part in shaping wherever I'm going to spend a lot of my time," said Old Southwest resident Shabnam Gideon.

Gideon says that shaping has to start with the people who live and work in the city.

"Anything we can do to foster small businesses and local businesses, to encourage local shopping. To discourage bigger chains," said Gideon.

Others, like Kathleen Herndon, agreed, saying to help those businesses, an image change might be in order.

"There's also all the empty storefronts, whether it's downtown or a little bit out of downtown itself. So, like a little corner grocery store, something like that would make it a lot easier," said Herndon.

Roanoke Senior Planner Wayne Leftwich says it's comments like that that will ultimately help determine what businesses do choose Roanoke as their new home.

"If someone wants to do something in downtown, we now have a plan that shows how the public wants that to be shaped, how we want that to happen and look like in the next 10, 20 years," said Leftwich.

Herndon says she's also excited about the planned Amtrak station in the city, but is anxious to see progress begin.

"I'd like to see it happen... Not to wait until later, do things a little bit sooner if you can, that way you're not dragging into the future," said Herndon.

Gideon and several others say they offer their input because they believe that community growth will happen.

"Absolutely, lots of potential," said Gideon.

People also made it clear they would like to see pedestrian improvements, bike paths, and more green space downtown.

The city is going to take all of that input, and will present it in a final document to City Council next spring.

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