Roanoke County to lease, develop Explore Park - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke County to lease, develop Explore Park

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ROANOKE COUNTY, VA -

Virginia's Explore Park gets a new future nearly six years since the living history part of the park closed due to low attendance.

Roanoke County now has a plan to revitalize the park's economic potential.

Under the agreement Roanoke County would lease the land for 99 years at a price of one dollar per year.

It's 11-hundred acres--- 700 in Roanoke County and 400 in Bedford County. They hope to make it a big tourist stop right on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

"In May I was worried about the state taking Explore Park over and really locking it down," said Mike Altizer, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors chairman.

Altizer is working with the Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority (VRFA) who oversees Explore Park.

"Explore Park will become the destination for this region," said Altizer who says the first priority is to make repairs to three buildings:

-Brugh Tavern: get it up and running as a restaurant again.

-Taubman building...

-Church: to host weddings and receptions.

"Today means the beginning the beginning of stability, opportunity and the future for Explore Park it sends a message now that she is going to be stable there are things that are going to happen," said Altizer.

We got a tour of what it looks like in the historic area. We saw tall grass and closed buildings but in time Altizer says the abandoned area will be filled with life again.

The long term goal is a regional adventure park with RV camping, outdoor adventures and special events.

the VRFA chairman says the partnership's a good fit.

"It's a great win for the valley. Explore Park struggled over the years to gain a footing just simply because the funding has been so erratic," said K. C. Bratton, the VRFA chairman.

Rupert Cutler was the first Explore Park executive director in the 1990s and says it's a step in the right direction.

"Those resources need to be protected development is fine as long as it's preferable and sensitively done because that's what people will come here just like they come to the great smoky mountains of the blue ridge parkway for the natural attributes of the area," said Cutler.

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the lease agreement at board meetings on September 10 and September 24, with a public hearing on the 24th. The public is also encouraged to attend a community meeting about the proposal on Thursday, September 19 at 6:00 P.M. at the Explore Park Visitor's Center. Roanoke County officials will be on hand at this meeting to present further details and answer citizen questions.

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News Release from Roanoke County:

In an announcement today at Explore Park, Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority (VRFA) Chairman Kelvin C. Bratton detailed an agreement in principle that would establish a 99-year lease of Explore Park to Roanoke County.

The park would be administered by Roanoke County's Parks, Recreation and Tourism department, with the long-term goal of creating a regional adventure park.

"The VRFA's goal has been to meet the mission of Explore Park," says Bratton. "Our pending agreement with Roanoke County will preserve what we have created, and evolve the many opportunities we have cultivated throughout our 27 years in existence. This is a time for great enthusiasm and anticipation."

Explore Park would be added to the County's current inventory of recreation facilities, providing both passive and active recreation opportunities, as well as future economic development possibilities through public-private partnerships. Among the possible uses the County is considering for the park are special events, family outreach programs, pavilion rentals, RV camping, rental cabins and outdoor adventure attractions.

Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael W. Altizer said he believes that this partnership is the right fit at the right time for Explore Park. He spoke to the stability and unique resources that Roanoke County brings to the table, with a history of successful recreation management projects. Chairman Altizer is excited about the opportunity to better serve the recreation needs of Roanoke County citizens, while creating new economic development opportunities for the entire area.

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the lease agreement at board meetings on September 10 and September 24, with a public hearing on the 24th. The public is also encouraged to attend a community meeting about the proposal on Thursday, September 19 at 6:00 P.M. at the Explore Park Visitor's Center. Roanoke County officials will be on hand at this meeting to present further details and answer citizen questions.

 

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