Kayak launch nears reality in Roanoke

Additional contributions sought for new put-in on Roanoke River

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Another asset in the Roanoke Region's growing number of outdoor amenities – a new kayak launch close to downtown – is a step closer to reality with $67,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

The launch, to be built off South Jefferson Street near the intersection with Reserve Avenue, next to The Bridges development, will be a convenient way to access the Roanoke River, halfway between Wasena Park and Piedmont Park.

At a news conference Monday morning at the site, supporters encouraged the community to raise the additional $10,000 needed before construction can begin.

"Through in-kind donations and corporate sponsorships we are 85 percent of the way to building the first public boat launch built with private money – no tax dollars," said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Roanoke Outside Foundation in a written statement, released on Monday. "The support we've seen demonstrates the desire to make Roanoke the best outdoor town on the East Coast."

The put-in will make it easier to launch a kayak, canoe or inner tubes closer to the region's urban core along the Roanoke River Blueway, a water trail that runs from the South Fork of the Roanoke River at East Montgomery County Park to Hardy Road in Bedford County at Smith Mountain Lake. Officials say the blueway also includes sections of the South Fork Roanoke River, Tinker Creek, and Back Creek.

The launch is made possible by several corporate donors pledging money and in-kind services. They include UBS, Carilion Clinic (the property), Boxley Materials (concrete for construction), E.C. Pace (excavation and grading) and MB Contractors (construction). Once built, the facility will be managed by the City of Roanoke.

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