Roanoke River Greenway will finally connect Roanoke and Salem

City of Roanoke approved an agreement with Walker Foundry on Monday night



It’s happening!

During Monday night’s Roanoke City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved the land swap that allows the city to complete the Roanoke River Greenway within city limits.

The city will receive two parcels of property owned by Walker Machine & Foundry along the Roanoke River and Norwich neighborhood that cover about a one-mile gap in the greenway.

This deal will be finalized at end of the month and eventually, Roanoke will build a bridge across the river to link the greenway with the existing spur, making 10 miles of continuous trail from Southeast Roanoke to Salem.

In return, the foundry will receive an abandoned railroad spur and drainage easements, which allow the current drain pipes to remain so the property can be redeveloped in the future.


Greenway users rejoice!

It seems that the ability to stay on the Roanoke River Greenway from Salem all the way to Southeast Roanoke is coming.

After a years-long battle, the City of Roanoke has reached a tentative agreement with Walker Foundry to acquire the river parcels needed to complete the last phase of the “Bridge the Gap” section of the Roanoke River Greenway, according to Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell.

The red-and-black dashed line shows the portion of the Roanoke River Greenway that's planned for the Walker Foundry property. (City of Roanoke)

Now, Cowell said, a public hearing will take place and it’s expected that a final resolution to all disputes and the exchange of property will happen by the end of the month.

In 2015, the city had reached agreements with other landowners, but not Walker Foundry.

In August 2017, Roanoke City Council authorized the use of eminent domain to claim the land; however, in April 2019, city council voted to stop pursuing eminent domain.

Two months later, in June, Walker Foundry filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming it was losing business and the property value has decreased.

Then, in November 2019, Walker put its property up for sale for $4 million and a year later, it has yet to be sold.

The property includes 25 separate parcels, including the contentious stretch that would potentially allow for the expansion of the Roanoke River Greenway.

Possible future plans for the site could include a playground, farmer’s market, canoe landing, as well as a new restaurant.