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The next twenty: Roanoke officials unveil ‘City Plan 2040′

Highlights include equity, community health, resilient economy

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke leaders are unveiling their vision for the star city. City Plan 2040 takes a comprehensive look at Roanoke and what it could look like over the next twenty years. The 153-page plan is nearly three years in the making and will guide decisions and policies.

Highlights include equity, a healthy community and a resilient economy.

“They’re very big challenges,” said Senior City Planner Wayne Leftwich.

Leftwich said equity can take many forms, whether in housing, infrastructure or jobs.

“Segregation and systematic racism has been, unfortunately, a part of this country for centuries and we still see the remnants of that today, even in our community,” said Leftwich.

They evaluated the city’s equity baseline to decide how to change policies, budgets and hiring practices.

“How do we procure services in the community? Are we hiring from minority or women-owned businesses?” said Leftwich. “Those sort of changes can really make a difference in the long run.”

City leaders say a healthy community requires access to health care, affordable healthy food and good relationships with police.

“We want to make sure people feel safe, we want to make sure people have access to healthy food and community facilities for wellness. We want to continue to focus on outdoor parks and recreation opportunities like the greenway,” said Leftwich.

Building a resilient economy will come down to supporting small businesses and local job development.

Director of planning, building and development, Chris Chittum, said this time around there’s been more community input than ever before and the city didn’t hire an outside consultant to help them out, which saved at least $500,000 and means that city leaders have skin in the game.

“Someone to kind of champion the ideas in there,” said Chittum.

“As we continue to grow as a city we can achieve many of these things,” said Leftwich.

There are going to be two more public hearings on the plan before it could be adopted by city council at the end of December.


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