Roanoke County is holding two town hall meetings this week to gather citizen input to determine potential routes that the Roanoke River Greenway could connect Green Hill Park to Montgomery County.
The two community meetings will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, with Wednesday’s meeting being held at the Fort Lewis Baptist Church and Thursday’s meeting at the Spring Hollow Water Treatment Plant, according to the county. .
The format will be open house-style so attendees can come and go as they please, and the content of the meetings will be the same, so there’s no need to attend both, the county wrote in a statement.
A survey is also available online asking citizens about their relationship to the Glenvar community where the park is located and the types of activities they participate in on the existing Roanoke Valley greenways.
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The survey also asks participants to rank the types of destination points they find most important such as recreational facilities, historic sites, agritourism, restaurants, convenience stores and employers.
Also, a preference on the types of greenway, whether adjacent to the river, on a hillside, in woods, adjacent to the highway or adjacent to a neighborhood street is followed by a final question on proximity from the trail to his home.
Isaac Henry, a county transportation planner, said the trail from Green Hill to Montgomery County would likely be somewhere within a nine-mile range and ideally stay along the river as much as possible.
He noted that there are various topographical challenges, multiple railroads to cross, and a large number of private landowners the county would need to work with once the plan is completed.
He said the county hopes to have the plan finalized next summer, and then applications for grants and state funding will begin, which he said could take years to secure funding.
“We would like to start the project in the next few years, but the five-year range is probably the most accurate,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.
East of Green Hill to where the Salem Trail ends along the river at Kings Mill Drive, the first phase of the expansion is expected to begin next year.
Henry said the first phase will run from Kings Mill Drive to the Riverside Nursery, where a trailhead will eventually be located.
The projects would be completed with a much bigger picture in mind, Henry said.
A “Valley to Valley” trail connecting the Roanoke and New River valleys has been discussed in various localities over the past few years.
The project would connect existing trail networks in the Roanoke area, Montgomery and Pulaski and Radford counties.
It was also suggested to extend the conceptual network to Galax. In total, the project could at some point create 100 miles or more of connected primary trails.
The project being discussed this week west of Green Hill would likely have the trail extended to where Roanoke and Montgomery counties meet on US 11 and US 460, Henry said.
“It’s the best place to meet, otherwise the trail would have to go far into the mountains,” Henry said.
The long-term project was discussed by local authorities and the VDOT as something that would be completed in phases.
Montgomery County spokeswoman Jennifer Harris said while no representative from Montgomery will be present at the meeting, county officials continue to work closely with other localities on the trail initiative. and a future joint meeting with Roanoke County is in the works.
Roanoke County and National Park Service staff will spend the winter reviewing feedback from meetings and the fall survey and making conceptual route recommendations.
A second round of community meetings will be held in the spring of 2023, where citizens will be able to review and comment on potential routes for the West Roanoke River Greenway.
The Roanoke Valley Greenway System includes more than 400 miles of paved and natural surface trails in Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, and Roanoke and Botetourt counties, according to the Roanoke Valley Greenways website.
Those interested in participating in the survey or learning more about the various greenway studies conducted in the area over the past several decades can visit www.roanokecountyva.gov/WRRG.
The Fort Lewis Baptist Church is located at 4215 W Main St. in Salem, and the Spring Hollow Water Treatment Plant is located at 6200 W. Main St. in Salem.