Roanoke considers restoration or replacement of Mill Mountain Star

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 7:02 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Mill Mountain Star is almost 75 years old, and the Roanoke icon needs attention. The city is now starting a process that could result in major renovations, or perhaps even a complete replacement.

It’s a required stop for visitors and residents alike, a favorite of Leah Wilkins and Karan Jain.

“We try to get up here as often as we can,” Jain told WDBJ7, “because it’s an iconic view and integral to the city’s history.”

“I’m actually a student at Hollins University and so seeing this mountain is something that I always look forward to seeing every time I come back to school,” Wilkins said.

Billed as the world’s largest man-made star when it was built in 1949, it has become a symbol of the Roanoke Valley. But in a study of the structure, first reported by the Roanoke Rambler, the city found serious deficiencies that could require millions to address. And Director of Roanoke Parks and Recreation Michael Clark said the city needs the public’s guidance on how to proceed.

Click here to contact Parks and Rec.

“We want to know what folks want to see, if they want to see us restore it and keep the neon or pursue something different like LED, or completely rebuild the structure,” Clark said in an interview. “Everything is on the table at this point, but ultimately we want to provide a structure that is meaningful to the community and will stand the test of time like the current star has.”

The Mill Mountain Advisory Board was scheduled to hear about the issue Wednesday afternoon. And the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will take it up next week.

Clark said it would be wonderful to complete the work in time for the 75th anniversary of the star late next year, but he said he doesn’t want to rush the process that will seek input from residents.