Floodplains and the Proximate Principle: A Case for Floodplain Linear Parks in Roanoke, Virginia

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Virginia Tech

The intention of this paper is to argue a position for the use of floodplain linear parks as a means of urban flood mitigation. Current approaches often focus on protecting existing and future structures via the use of costly-engineered solutions such as dams and floodwalls. My argument is that the same money can be used to restore the floodplain by removing such structures and establishing a park system that will serve as a valuable public amenity, while allowing flooding to occur with minimal damage produced. In the long run, such a park will provide a greater return on the investment than other potential solutions. A discussion of the "Proximate Principle" will describe how this works. From an environmental perspective, the importance of such a park will be discussed by placing it in the context of the green infrastructure concept, which is essentially an umbrella term for ongoing efforts to better integrate human and natural systems. Three case studies are presented that demonstrate examples of such park systems and the effects they had on local economies and communities. These studies begin demonstrating the social connotations for such a project as well. Throughout this paper, ties are made to the city of Roanoke, Virginia (where the project portion of this thesis takes place) to demonstrate the relevance of floodplain linear parks to the city. All arguments made are supported by a conceptual floodplain park plan for the city of Roanoke.

Green Infrastructure, Proximate Principle, Flood Control, Roanoke