By Meg Hibbert
The second Comprehensive Plan workshop Monday night produced scores of ideas of what Salem residents would like to see added to their community in the next 20 years.
Seventy-eight people spend 90 minutes in the East Salem Elementary School cafetorium brainstorming ideas that ranged from more connections to the Roanoke River Greenway, pocket parks with children’s play equipment, a skate park, disk golf and possible arts center uses for the house and 1.3-acres of the Tuttle property on Main Street between CVS and the Salem Post Office.
The workshop was sponsored by the Salem Planning Commission and Community Planning staff. Consultant Glenn Walters, a landscape architect and planner from the TownStudio firm, explained table exercises for participants to brainstorm and write ideas for “Back to Salem’s Future Plan 2045”.
The 12 groups sitting on little kids’ stools at cafeteria tables came up with a plethora of suggestions, then shared them at the end of that night’s workshop.
Participants at several tables suggested developing a walking path around the Salem Golf Course. “People already walk their dogs there,” one person said. “We might as well as make it a trail.”
In addition to a map of Salem’s existing parks and open spaces stretching from city boundaries and encompassing green spaces such as the former Mowles Springs to the Salem Golf Course, Longwood Park and smaller parks, Walters provided another plat that showed the Tuttle property that runs between West Main Street and West Burwell Street.
Zoning Administrator Mary Ellen Wines explained the city has applied for a Virginia Outdoors grant to develop the Tuttle property, which is flat and in the floodplain.
Ideas groups came up with ranged from the two-story house to be used as an art center with pottery kilns, classes and outdoor art shows, to a possible splash garden for children to play in water, and basketball goals for older children.
Firepits where people could bring their own marshmallows to roast was also suggested.
Another idea was sculpture garden with chunky sculptures children could climb. Salem resident Angie Petty, who took notes for her table, showed photos of a similar sculpture garden in the Atlanta, Ga., area.
Citizens wanted more trees and landscaping in general throughout the city, widened sidewalks and a safe pedestrian bridge over the Roanoke River.
A sign noting the history of the Tuttle House was suggested. Rome Schlater Johnston Tuttle lived for 90 years in the home where she was born, until shortly before her death in 2013.
A number of Planning Commission Members attended the workshop, as did Mayor Renee Turk, Vice Mayor Jim Wallace and Councilmember Hunter Holliday, along with new City Manager Chris Dorsey and other city staff.
The next Comprehensive Plan workshop is scheduled April 9, with the location to be announced.