Reimagine Oak Grove

This map shows the area of Oak Grove that will be remodeled.

This map shows the area of Oak Grove that will be remodeled.

Ava Wagner, Reporter

Beginning this winter, Roanoke County and Roanoke City have teamed up to “reimagine Oak Grove.” This is a planning project that is aimed towards remodeling the entire Oak Grove area. The idea is to involve the community and determine what the residents of the area want to see in the future.

The city and county planning committees made a survey available to the public from February 1st through April 7th and Hidden Valley High School students were encouraged to go take it on Blackboard. Results of this survey will be available at both design open house meetings. The meetings are for the public to attend about this project and will take place on May 19th and 24th.

“Getting the public involved in this decision is smart because a lot of people live near the Oak Grove area and go by there multiple times a day,” said Julia Brown (10).

Ideas from the public so far have been to construct bicycle lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks, greenways, expand park and recreation opportunities with public trails and activity spaces for kids. The public has also expressed the desire to upgrade existing commercial buildings and facades, add restaurants, cafes, retail, grocery shopping and public spaces. The goal is to turn an area with lots of potential into a public attraction that will promote businesses and draw in people.

“I think this change will benefit Roanoke greatly because the area is in need of remodeling,” said Brown (10).

The Roanoke County Planning Department hosted a meeting at Oak Grove Elementary School that was aimed towards teachers. They met in the library of the school and were given large maps of the Oak Grove Area. The teachers were then asked to mark places where they hoped to see change in the future. The Reimagine Oak Grove project is centered on ideas of the public and brought to the attention of as many Roanoke citizens as possible.

“We have identified ten or twelve areas in the county that we would like to see improvements in and Oak Grove is a priority,” said Philip Thompson, Deputy Director of Planning.

With a total acreage of 173, the area is room for numerous businesses and outdoor spaces. Currently the Oak Grove area is home to two small strip malls, Oak Grove Elementary School, and Keagy Village. In this area there are several vacant properties with major potential. More than 80 commercial and residential properties are currently in the Oak Grove area and in order to remodel this area into lively and convenient attractions, about 20 years will be required. The goal is to have the Oak Grove area redone by 2040.

“We are trying to look at areas that have redevelopment potential in the Roanoke area and that is how Reimagine Oak Grove really started,” said Thompson.