We have a new mini soap opera on Roanoke City Council. It seems like it’s a little bit of a hot potato, too. It concerns the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee, the panel’s future, and all the vacancies council has deferred filling on it for months now.
In case you haven’t caught all the episodes here’s a quick and dirty synopsis to fill you in.
1) Sometime over the summer, Roanoke City Council began some closed-door discussions over the fate of the committee, which council created by ordinance in 1965. These occurred as council deferred appointing citizens who had applied to fill vacancies on the panel.
2) Mayor David Bowers went to the MMAC’s September meeting and told them council was considering abolishing the committee, or making it a subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
3) MMAC Chair Nancy Dye went to council’s Oct. 1 meeting and asked council what was up. Beyond other council members expressing outrage that Bowers had breached a vow of secrecy by spilling those beans, there was mostly a lot of hemming and hawing.
She was back again Monday, as council seemed to continue struggling to make a “decision” that has left more than a few people asking, “is it necessary to make a decision about this at all?”
For the second month in a row, and for more than an hour Monday afternoon, council heard from MMAC committee members and citizens.
Everybody in the room agreed its work is valuable, and that committee members were good and efficient stewards of the mountain.
The group meets five times a year. It coordinates volunteer efforts to help pick up trash, remove fallen trees and keep trails clear.
When there’s a big issue with the mountain it tackles that. When there’s not, the committee tackles smaller things. Currently it’s focused on the deteriorating stone wall along Prospect Road, a popular greenway that goes up the mountain.
So what is the big issue? That’s a great question. I left that meeting thinking the same thing.