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West Point Street paving project criticized, defended

The Roanoke recreation center and the work being done outside of it on West Point Street became something of a sore subject at the Roanoke City Council meeting Monday night.

The night began with the council voting on a new set of rules for people who use the recreation center. Councilmember Tammi Holley had previously referred to some of the rules as “racist” when they were initially brought in front of the council for review. She did not use that same term Monday, but voted against the implementation of the rules. The measure passed anyway, by a 4-2 vote, with John Frank Houston also voting no.

When the rules were initially presented to the council in March, Holley questioned the proposed requirement of a “proof of residency” for anyone wanting to enter the gym during public play times. She also questioned a proposed water-only requirement for drinks brought into the facility and a dress code item that would prohibit any visible undergarments.

“A lot of these seem like they are aimed directly at Black people,” Holley said at the March 20 meeting, “because that’s who uses the rec center the most anyway.”

The list of rules that passed Monday included all of those items, as well as the implementation of a $5-per-day guest pass fee for non-residents or people who could not provide proof of residency.

The city has spent nearly $100,000 on renovations at the recreation center, including the installation of a new gym floor.

Some of the rules – such as the water only requirement – are aimed at preserving the quality of the new floor and the renovations.

Later in the meeting, during her report, Holley took aim at the paving project taking place on West Point Street. That project includes the construction of a median in front of the senior center and will also include a sidewalk and paving of the parking lot across from the senior center.

The plans for that project were approved by the council in September of last year, but Holley was not aware of the added elements beyond the basic resurfacing.

“We’ve made a mess out of that street. That’s all I have to say,” Holley said.

When it came time for Kesa Johnston’s report, she stood up for those elements of the project.

“I know there are different opinions, but I am happy about the work that is taking place out there,” she said. “West Point Street is going to be beautiful.”

The median was included in the paving project as a means to slow traffic and provide some aesthetic elements that are intended to complement the work that has been done on the recreation center.

West Point St, Roanoke

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