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Mayor David Bowers mentioned the talks in his annual state of the city address.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
The Washington and Lee University School of Law and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute are discussing a possible collaboration in Roanoke, Mayor David Bowers disclosed in his annual state of the city address Friday.
Bowers cited the effort as one of several signs that Roanoke’s future is bright.
He said he met with leaders of the law school and the medical school earlier this month to begin exploring ways to mesh advanced legal studies with research efforts at the medical school.
W&L law Dean Nora Demleitner said the schools are discussing joint degrees, like the combined M.D. and law degrees offered by Duke University and the University of Chicago, as well as sharing the teaching of some courses.
The discussions are still very preliminary, and it would take at least 18 months to two years before any joint degree might get under way, though joint teaching efforts could start sooner, she said.
“I think the reaction was very positive,” Bowers said.
“Academic improvements are a real economic driver for Roanoke,” he told the crowd of more than 220 business and civic leaders at the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsored event.
So, too, are cultural facilities, he added. He said the city is continuing to work on a more sustainable way of helping fund the arts and culture and is pushing to become a tourism destination.
Bowers said upcoming passenger rail service to Roanoke, the nearly completed Elmwood Park renovation, the expansion of the Elm Avenue interchange with Interstate 581/U.S. 220 and the expanded interchange at Valley View Boulevard all point to brighter prospects for the city.
He said the latter opens up the possibility of a mixed use, town center project in the Evans Spring area, which could spark a corridor of development running along I-581 to downtown and beyond to the medical school campus.
Bowers said he is also proud that the city’s reading programs have won Roanoke its sixth All America City award, while the city schools graduation rate has soared in the past three years.
The mayor confirmed that the city plans to begin work on the Market Square pedestrian plaza project this year. It was postponed in March when bids were higher than the sum the city budgeted.
City Manager Chris Morrill said the city believes it can complete the project within the original $600,000 budget, because the original schedule called for some complicated and costly work scheduling to keep from interfering too much with the market’s operations.
Doing the work when the market is less active, after the Dickens of a Christmas celebration, will avoid that, he said.
The schedule now allows more time for the work, as well, which also eases cost pressures, he said.
The city plans to put the project out for bid Sept. 1, Morrill said.
Bowers said the project would be completed by the spring, and he expected to see increased tourism and pedestrian traffic as a result.
“We have tons of reasons to be positive and confident that Roanoke is a great place to li ve, work and visit,” he said.
“We are on the right track, our future looks grand, and Roanoke, as strong and friendly as the mountains of Virginia, is getting better every day.”
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