New Roanoke 4

Did you see the Star?

White again. Brilliant white.

The star lit in red, white, and blue was nice - but white is defining.

White Stars can have bad reputations, however. The White Star Line was mother to some of the grandest, and yet most ill-fated ships in history. Roanoke's own White Star has always been a beacon, of sorts - and yet now - there is question as to weather it is a beacon lamp, or warning lamp of an iceberg ahead.

As Roanoke, and the rest of the nation, struggles with misplaced identities from the past - we wrap ourselves in retail - franchise, the safe route.

Roanoke has been bubble-wrapped and sanitized for your protection, but the system is falling apart.

In years past - Roanoke has had the opportunity on numerous occasions to set itself apart from the pack of cities it is normally held to as comparison.

Still to this day, it misses those opportunities.

Now the Lake will have an amphitheater, while Roanoke - which has had a location for one for years now, does not. And yet still Roanoke investigates the option of an amphitheater.

Unless ours will be larger than the one at the Lake - there is no reason for building one. We missed that boat. Perhaps we should look into building something larger - maybe a stadium - football style, which could house both concerts AND sporting events.

And yes, I know we had Victory - but in all fairness, for what Roanoke really needs Victory Stadium could not provide.

Right now, on Reserve Avenue - there is a hotel being built. A $10 Million dollar hotel, complete with meeting space, restaurants, and the like. It will exist, in part, for Carilion's new Biomedical Park. But what of the people who come to stay there. Will they stay local to the hotel and Carilion? Or will they wish to venture out and discover Roanoke?

And if they should, travel Jefferson rather than Franklin into Downtown - what will they see?

Where will they go, aside from the single destination of "Downtown" or the Star. Shopping is decidedly not a destination, so that rules out Valley View and Tanglewood. Explore Park would be great if they could find it. And really, other than a nice stroll - whats to do there? (this from an avowed fan of historical recreations)

Tourist dollar plays directly with the non-tourist dollar. If the locals can't find something to do, the tourists will have a hard time finding it. And I'm thinking the average Roanoker would more appreciate a lazy river and a fishing hole rather than a kayak park...

But we paid good money to a specialist to tell us we need these things. I guess it's easier to dismiss something you pay for as opposed to ignoring the will of the people. Maybe it's just me.

If we expect to advance, to grow and prosper as a city - we need to realize that the population is in decline. At the rate of 200 per year, we are losing people. Even the city schools are losing, as enrollment rates are dropping.

We need to drop the safety net, and get dangerous. Engage in some deep thought, activate the communities and get into some serious change. And no paid study is going to do that.

It comes down to two things, the city council and the citizens. Both need to demand more of each other, and work together more.

The White Star shines again, but does it shine for the bright promise of tomorrow, or the warning of whats ahead?


Khrystyn said...

Roanoke thinks building things will suffice. If they are building a hotel at the base of Mill Mtn, then why do we need one on Mill Mtn? And really, does Hotel Roanoke hold that many conferences and is it booked up constantly? I don't think so. Hotels and ampitheatres won't bring more people. Activities bring people. Jobs bring people. Money brings people. Not building things. (And people live here for the environment and mtns, tearing trees down and destroying the environment will not bring people either. That's what NoVA is for.)

Anonymous said...

As always you are on target and are willing to make a commitment to change, may not always have the answers but at least willing to try, there should be more out there like you and if there are not, then give it the best that you have.

Jeff St Real said...

Well said.

FireFleitz said...

Well said as well.

I do have one comment though or more of a historical note. Wasn't the star changed to red white and blue after 9/11 and stayed that way since. If I am correct, I just thought it would be neat to note that fact of history. It is also interesting how the recent change was a terrible tragedy as well.

RoanokeFound said...

The Star was RWB from 9/11 forward, with the exception of this past Halloween, when for some strange reason - it was blinky, glitchy, and orange at points..

Creepy lookin thing.

But 21st Century dictates the Star should be changeable.. should require nothing more than the flick of a switch to get it to RWB, all red.. all blue..

Either way.. My only question at this point is: Is the Star bright enough? Part of me says ditch the neon and go with high-output LED, saves electricity, and would be much brighter.

It's all about the wattage, baby.

John said...

I grew up at the foot of Mill Mountain, right under that star. I mean right at the very base of the mountain, as in, run across the backyard, across the alley, and the ground started sloping uphill non-stop to the top of the mountain. When I was a kid (back in the 60s) they used to turn the star red for three days whenever somebody in the Valley died in a traffic accident. It was kind of morbid but I learned as a kid that we all eventually get our tickets punched.

I've read that they can make the star be any color they want to, but I think they are still using old neon tubes. I really like the idea of LCD. It fits with the idea of updating the old things in the Valley, dragging them into 2007. All the new traffic lights down here in the big city are LCD devices, so how hard could it be to update our beloved star with the things?