Roanoke’s greenways to remain closed until governor lifts stay-at-home order


The Roanoke greenways will stay closed, according to a release from city leaders Thursday morning.

Officials say greenways reopening will coincide with the governor’s plan to reopen the state, meaning the trails will remain closed until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“It’s a tough time, but when tough situations come up, you’ve got to make tough decisions," said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea. "I’d rather get criticized on the side of safety than to let someone go out there and get infected with this virus.”

Lea said he understands the decision is not popular with some Roanokers, since he has received a number of calls from residents asking him to reopen the greenway. However, he said a change will not come until data shows that COVID-19 cases are declining.

“The emotions have got people saying, ‘We can do this. Let’s do that,’" Lea said. “I understand emotions, I am human, but in my position, you want to make sure you base your decision on facts.”

Below is a portion of the statement:

“The City recognizes the value of the outdoors and exercise at this time; thus, all 60 of our parks and their 14,000 acres, courts, athletic fields, trails and playgrounds. most of which are in close proximity to each of our neighborhoods, remain open.”

To read the full statement, see a list of lesser-known parks or look over a list of tips for using public areas during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.


Roanoke’s greenways have been shut down throughout April due to COVID-19, but there’s a chance that could change soon.

City leaders announced during a teleconference Wednesday that they will make a decision about the future of the greenways on Thursday. The city originally announced the greenways would remain closed through the end of April, and it is still unlikely the entire greenway will reopen soon.

“It will be a phased reopening,” said Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell during the teleconference. “We have received quite a few ideas on how to do this.”

WATCH: Roanoke leaders hold April 29 coronavirus news conference

“It’s not going to be a switch, where everything comes back on,” added Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea.

Lea said the city is taking cues from Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to reopen the state to find the best way to reopen the greenways. He said he understands the frustration of some people, but that the city is doing what it can to keep people safe.

“It’s been uncomfortable, it’s been inconvenient, but it’s been necessary,” Lea said. “I am just as anxious as everyone else to get moving, but we’re going to follow the governor.”