Roanoke City Council reached the end of the road on one problem property and continued to look for answers regarding another at Monday's council meeting at city hall.
The council began the meeting by unanimously putting an end to an ongoing saga regarding a nuisance property on Smedley Avenue. The decrepit house at 1026 Smedley (just off of Chestnut Street across from Jeff's Place) has been unoccupied for years, and neighbors in the area reported it as a nuisance property approximately three years ago, according to city clerk Pat Truitt.
The city acquired the house and lot with the hope of cleaning it up, but multiple liens on the property had to be cleared before they could legally do so. After an arduous legal process to clear those liens, the city recently learned that the property was finally free and clear.
Armed with that knowledge, council members unanimously voted to have the house razed and the lot cleared.
The green home is already crumbling, with minor structural damage to the front of the house and major disrepair in the back. The city said the work to clear the property will begin as soon as weather permits.
Answers were not as cut and dried for another bout of vandalism at the city's Kid's Town Park, which sits at the corner of Franklin Road and Kiwanis Drive near Traylor Retirement Community.
The park has been a target for vandals on a recurring basis, and according to councilmember Tammi Holley was recently hit again.
Holley conferred with Police Chief Adam Melton, asking for lights and/or cameras to be installed at the park.
"We need to see if we can cut down on some of this vandalism, and hopefully find out who's doing it," Holley said.
City zoning administrator Tim Jacobs joined the discussion, saying that lights at a park often end up encouraging illicit nighttime activity in public spaces rather than deterring it.
That led Holley to focus in on her request for cameras, to which Melton said he would comply.
Truitt said she will help lead a year-long campaign to encourage Roanoke and county citizens to fully cooperate with the 2020 census.
The once-a-decade count of citizens determines a wide array of government-related decisions, including foundational things like the state's number of representatives in Congress and funding for a wide variety of programs.
Federal estimates state that each person not counted in the census leads to $1,600 worth of lost government funding, on average.
The census officially begins on April 1 of this year. Information on how to participate and respond to the census can be found at 2020census.gov.
Recent criminal activity in Roanoke's District 3, including a home invasion last week, has put residents in that area of town on edge, according to District 3 Councilwoman Bronwyn Bishop.
The district encompasses the neighborhoods off of Highway 22 east of Highway 431. Both Bishop and Melton encouraged citizens in that area and throughout the city to report any suspicious activity.
"If you see something, say something," Bishop said. "If you are suspicious, that needs to be communicated to the proper people so they can check it out."
Melton echoed those words, while Mayor Mike Fisher encouraged residents to get organized when it comes to policing their neighborhoods.
"If any neighborhoods want to meet, they can do so in city hall or at the rec center to form a neighborhood watch," Fisher said. "Any time these neighborhoods want to meet, we'll furnish a place."
- The only other official action that the council took was to approve the installation of a streetlight on Cherry Avenue off of County Road 87, at Bishop's request. The council unanimously voted to approve the placement of the streetlight.
- Fisher also reported he received a phone call from State Sen. Randy Price following Saturday's severe weather. Price called to check with Fisher to make sure the town was OK after the storms.
"That was the first time I've every gotten a call from a politician to ask about our city," Fisher said.