Roanoke residents share ideas for improved parks and recreation within the city

ROANOKE, Va. – With the click of a button or the raise of a hand, Roanoke residents shared their ideas for improved parks and recreation within the city. 

"This is their chance to let us know what they want to see from the park system and we wanted it to be as accessible as possible, spreading the meetings out to each part of the city," said Michael Clark, director of Parks and Recreation. 

Roanoke Parks and Recreation is hosting a series of meetings to gather input on the future of activities in the city. That input will help shape the first full, comprehensive master plan in almost two decades.

"We have a very expansive park system. We have a dated park system, so we have a lot of infrastructure needs, some facilities we haven't been able to address," Clark said.

During Monday's meeting at Preston Recreation Center, consultants for the city took residents through a survey of what they like and don't like about parks and recreation in Roanoke. Strengths that were listed involved the sheer number and variety of parks, as well as the greenways.

"By far, the crown jewel of our park system is our greenway system," Clark said.

They also mentioned weaknesses with the lack of public restrooms, parking and seating.

"All along the greenway, there are very few benches and many of them are  not shaded. I just think the city could be a lot more welcoming," said Paul Scott, a Roanoke resident.

Parks staff say master plan changes could range from more green space and parks in neighborhoods to a new skate park for the city. It will be the public's input that puts the plan in place.

The master plan is expected to come together this fall with approval by city council at the start of next year.

For more details on the next meetings, click here.