After two years of hard work, Roanoke Parks and Recreation can begin to implement changes to Mill Mountain trails. On Monday, May 17, Roanoke City Council unanimously approved the 2021 Mill Mountain Trails Plan Amendment. This is an amendment to the 2005 Mill Mountain Park Trails Plan; the Department completed all of those recommendations and needed to create a plan to address today’s needs.
Renee Powers, Trails and Greenway Coordinator with Roanoke Parks and Recreation, said, “It is exciting to complete this process and start a new chapter on Mill Mountain focusing on neighborhood connections to the park and improving loops for all trail users.” In March 2019, Powers created a task force comprising parks and recreation personnel and community stakeholders. Their main goals were to assess current trail conditions and uses, evaluate any new possible trails, and gather community feedback from the neighborhoods around Mill Mountain as well as everyday trail users. As with everything, this project experienced setbacks due to COVID. “Hosting public meetings and Task Force meetings in person were not an option with COVID 19, so the plan took a little longer than we had hoped,” Powers said. In the end, Powers feels they ended up with a plan that balances the conservation needs of the mountain with citizens’ desires to enjoy recreational opportunities.
After months of Task Force meetings, trail-user interviews, and collecting input from neighborhood groups and the general public, the plan was developed, written, and designed. Roanoke Parks and Recreation presented it to the public, the Mill Mountain Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Planning Commission, and finally Roanoke City Council for approval.
Powers anticipates starting work on the plan right away. “Design on new neighborhood connections will start in June, and we hope to have something new from the plan finished by the end of the summer. Maintenance will continue on PLAY Roanoke sponsored workdays and dates and sign up information is located on our website.” Click here to see those dates and to sign up to help. Powers is planning a larger kick-off in September for National Public Lands Day. Since the public was a big part of the Mill Mountain Trails Plan Amendment, and she feels it is only fitting that the celebration of National Public Lands Day in 2021 be held on Mill Mountain. A new trail will be designed at the end of the summer, and interested trail users and citizens are encouraged to sign up for the workday by clicking here.
You can see the final plan by visiting Play Roanoke’s website, and if you’d like to receive updates about National Public Lands Day and other Department programs and events, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter here.