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Explore Park master plan could cost up to $60 million

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Roanoke County leaders hope an initial investment of $10 million in upgrades to Explore Park will bring in an extra $42 million a year; however, the plan for the park is on hold until it's approved by the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

It's an in-depth proposal, 110 pages to be exact, the Explore Park "Adventure Plan" outlines everything from a planning timeline to management practices to possible new attractions.

The park's "Adventure Plan" will include several developments over the next 15 to 20 years. It will start with new and improved bike trails and the plan entails adding features like new campgrounds, event venues, kayaking and zip lines.

"I would come more often personally if there was a zip line here," said Roanoke native Andrew Sharpe, who frequents the park with family and friends. "If the county is thinking about, I think it's a really good idea."

For those seeking relaxation or adventure among nature like Sharpe, the park's proposed facelift is perfect.

The county's Parks and Recreation Director Doug Blount said the vision is to develop the land in an effort to put Explore Park on the map to attract out more out-of-state visitors nationwide.

The park's master plan also includes a business plan and a phasing report, which outlines funding and construction for the new amenities. Implementing the plan will eventually cost millions.

"The estimate could be anywhere between $40 to $60 million over the 20-year period," said Blount. "But we're also talking about the cost of putting in a trail network."

Blount said the department will also look for private investors, grants and federal funds to lower the initial price.

"Well, it really depends upon what recreational amenities and different features that are built," said Blount. "What we've recommended to the board of supervisors Tuesday night is the initial investment to get the park up and started was $10 million over 10 years."

It's a hefty price tag, but Sharpe and friends feel it's worth the expense.

"I think it's a good idea to have more fun stuff to bring more people here and more entertainment," said hiker Austin Dickson.

"It would be great to see more people having fun in the community," said Sharpe.

The master plan is set to go before the board on September 13 for a vote. If approved, construction will follow shortly after.