Roanoke, Co., VA - For the past five years, the fate of Virginia's Explore Park has been up and down to say the least.
After word spread that Roanoke County had decided to offer a 99-year lease on the 1100 acre park for future development, park officials are once again excited about its future.
"I'm excited that we now have a partner with Roanoke County that brings to the table the resources Explore Park needs to be successful," said Debbie Pitts with Virginia's Explore Park.
The lease is part of a bigger vision Roanoke County leaders have for the region. They're looking to continue building the brand, "Virginia's Blue Ridge": a brand that is heavily focused on eco-tourism.
"There's a lot of potential to build on that niche here at Explore Park. Things like camping and outdoor recreation opportunities that currently don't exist in the Roanoke Valley. There's a lot of potential for that to be built here," said Scott Ramsburg with Roanoke County Parks and Recreation.
Sooner than later, the Parks and Rec Department plans to put the park to use as part of the summer camp program.
Topping the ideas already in place include expanding bike and hiking paths, rental cabins and an RV park, hoping to stretch the park's reach to a more regional attraction.
"So that Explore Park is on the map where folks walk through the door they have a little "X" that says I am here at Explore Park, "What can I do?". And they will have hundreds of choices," Pitts said.
The county is holding a community meeting at the park on Thursday night at 6 p.m. Anyone can not only see what is being considered, but also take time to make suggestions of their own.