Saturday, February 24, 2007

If you want a tourist attraction, you better make it a good one!

It seems that Roanoke City Council is firmly behind the proposal put forth by Valley Forward to rebuild the Rockledge Inn atop Mill Mountain . I can't see how a hotel alone can attract visitors to the area unless there are substantial recreational activities available - like an extensive mountain biking trail system that includes the Chestnut Ridge Loop.

So how about it City Council and Valley Forward;

If you build this hotel in an City Park, will you lobby the National Park Service to open the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail to mountain bikers in order to help attract young professionals and tourists to Roanoke?


Grandfather of Mountain Biking in the RoVa said...

This is really fine stuff but you are preaching to the choir. You ought to send copies to each member of Council. Also, I strongly suggest that you send it to the newspaper. It exceeds their 750 character limit but they may be interested in printing it as an op-ed. They do this all the time. Again...fine stuff.

Grandfather of Mountain Biking in the RoVa said...

Here is my two cents worth......
1. "Ability of everyone to use MM Park". How does an inn with $100 rooms, a restaurant with $19 entrees and a bar with $5 drinks allow "everyone" to use MM Park?
2." Historical Precident." There is NO historical precedent for a mega dining/lodging/conference center/cafe/jazz bar plus the 250 new parking spaces which will be needed to service this complex. The VF people want the public to think this will be a simple "rebuild" or "re-creation" of a bygone structure. The original Rockledge was a modest inn, serviced mainly by a cable car on the side of MM Park. The automobile had not even been invented when the original opened in 1892. We are talking about apples and oranges here and the VF proposal is one BIG bloated orange.
3."It would strengthen the ties between Explore Park and the MM Zoo." Explore Park has been a commercial failure from the day the gate opened. The Brugh Tavern has failed three times under three separate managements. It's now closed. Quite obviously, EP was an ill-conceived project and Roanoke County has been forced to essentially give up on it. But two years ago a stranger appeared at the County Fathers' door. He said,
" Give me Explore Park and I will do something with it".
He didn't say WHAT he would do but the County was so happy to get rid of the place that they didn't care and gave the stranger a blank contract, patted him on the back and wished him luck. So far he has done water designer discount Motel 8.
4. The MM Park Zoo has been in the red for several years. It has more in common with the petting zoos that occasionally show up at the malls than it does with a real zoo. Tourists are not going to flock to Roanoke to pet a smelly goat.
5." Mountain Top Attractions are Incredibly Powerful". And junked up mountain top attractions are incredibly junky. Some people are not going to be satisfied until every last shred of space on MM Park is paved over and the only green thing left there will be the wads of cash spilling from the pockets of some out of town developer.If you want to see what they are trying to do to MM Park, drive out to Williamson Road.
6. " could be constructed in an environmentally sensitive and compatible manner."
The original RLI was a good aesthetic fit for MM Park. It was hidden in the trees, was modest in size and required no parking space as access to the summit was via cable car. The VF megaplex proposal will dwarf the orig. in in size, will be multifunctional and will require at least 250 additional parking spaces.
7. " Blue Ridge Parkway tie in"
Could VF please tell us how many automobiles pass the existing Roanoke-Blue Ridge Parkway spur every day? I didn't think so.( And don't forget to subtract the number of commuter's cars. )
And how many of those remaining cars have sleepy or hungry occupants?
This is an inflated bogus tie-in. The bulk of the users of this proposed megaplex will have to come from people already living in the RoVa, therefor taking business from existing restaurants, motels, bars, cafes and conference centers.
8. "regional destination" Jeeze! We already have the "World's Largest Neon Star" on MM Park. Honey, If that don't bring the tourists in, the $100 rooms and $19 entrees ain't gonna either!
9. "The 'Hip Factor'". Boy, I love this one. My wife and I have recently stayed at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. We have been frequent visitors to the Mt. Pisgah Lodge in North Carolina. People who go to such places are Baby Boomers. The hipsters have long since left for Richmond and Charlotte. And by the way, both of these destinations offer many "green" options within walking distance. The VF proposal wiil destroy what little green is left on the summit of MM Park.
10. " There are so many reasons to do it". But VF saves it's biggest, dumbest faux pas for last.
" And finally there is an 88 foot neon star already sitting majestically on the face of the mountain ( with a still larger communications tower beside it), so DEFACING THE MOUNTAIN IS NOT AN ISSUE" ( emphasis mine.) Essentially what they are admitting is the MM Park is ALREADY defaced so, what the heck, let Valley Forward mess it up some more.!!!

I know this blog does not get much exposure. But to those who are reading it PLEASE write Roanoke City Council and ask them not to allow any more commercial development on MM Park. Thanks.