Roanoke researches options for star's lights

The city hasn't made any decisions about the future of the neon lights

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Roanoke leaders are researching options for the lights on the Roanoke star and the public is weighing in.

Assistant City Manager Sherman Stovall says it’s becoming difficult for them to find parts for repairs for the current neon lights. A switch to LED lights could potentially save the city money long-term, but making any major upgrades would cost taxpayer money.

“We recognize that the Mill Mountain Star is an iconic landmark in the Roanoke Valley and want to be certain that we do everything we possibly can to ensure that it continues to operate for years to come,” Stovall said in a statement Monday to WSLS 10.

Many people have posted on social media both in favor of keeping the neon lights and supporting a move to LEDs.

Darryl Thompson works in the area with neon lights and is in favor of keeping the current system.

“If any further movement happens with this, we, as a city, need to stand against it,” Thompson commented on Facebook.

City Council members say they’re trying to figure out what’s best for the city.

“I think you can make a strong case either way,” City Council member John Garland said. “I do historic preservation, so I tend to like old things. But you can make the case either way.”

City leaders say they’re not seeking bids right now to replace the neon lights with LED lights. They’re just looking at their options.

“It’s not always straight-up money. Cost is a factor, but historic preservation plays a big role in that,” Garland said.

Some people have suggested that switching to LEDs would cause the star to lose its designation on the National Register of Historic Places. City leaders don’t think that’s in jeopardy.

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