Roanoke County hopes long-range plan will help bring success to Explore Park

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Almost two years after taking over control of Explore Park, Roanoke County is investing in a master plan.

The county is paying a private firm $200,000 to create a list of recommendations and to develop a business plan for the next 15 years. The master plan is expected to be complete by February 2016.

Roanoke County Director of Parks, Tourism and Recreation, Doug Blount, says he's hopeful the new plan will help the county determine what can be successful at the park.

Expected suggestions include the creation of overnight accommodations and more outdoor adventure activities. Those activities would be run by private businesses, potentially spurring millions of dollars in investment.

The hope is that Explore Park will become a popular tourist destination.

Landon Howard, President of the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, is excited about the potential upgrades at Explore Park. With its close proximity to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Downtown Roanoke, Howard says the space has the potential to bring in a lot of money for the region.

Roanoke County has work to do to prepare the park for development. Adding utilities and creating more ways to access the park are among the changes the county plans to make.

The public will be able to give input on what it would like to see at Explore Park. Public meetings will be held in the fall.