Downtown Roanoke Kayak Launch Opens

Kayak Launch

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Roanoke, Va. (October 4, 2016) – Paddling the Roanoke River downtown is now easier with the opening of a new kayak and canoe launch site made possible by a crowdfunding campaign that raised $80,000.

Community and corporate leaders today cut the ribbon at a site that is a joint effort between the Roanoke Outside Foundation, The Bridges development, Carilion Clinic and the City of Roanoke. The launch will be managed by Roanoke City Parks and Recreation and the city’s storm water division.

“This project, funded by private donations – no tax dollars – demonstrates our community’s support of investment in infrastructure that enhances our outdoor assets,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation.

There is no cost to use the launch, located halfway between Wasena Park and Piedmont Park, making it easier to canoe, kayak, or tube close 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. Amenities onsite include a viewing platform, steps down to the river, boat storage rack and informational kiosk that includes a map of the river.

The Roanoke River Blueway has been named one of the Virginia Treasures, an initiative by Gov. Terry McAuliffe designed “to preserve, protect and highlight Virginia’s most important ecological, cultural, scenic and recreational assets as well as its special lands.” The program’s goal is to designate 1,000 treasures across the Commonwealth. The Roanoke River Blueway Committee is managed by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission and works with member localities to promote recreational use of the Roanoke River.

The first takeout location point downstream is the 13th Street Bridge. The Tinker Creek access point in Vinton is the next developed access point.

“Carilion Clinic is proud to be a partner with our friends and neighbors at the Roanoke Outside Foundation, The Bridges, the City of Roanoke and the many other community members who made this possible,” said Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic. “Every time we engage in projects like this launch, it brings our community together even more. I can’t wait to see runners, walkers, bikers–and now kayakers and canoers–coming together where our Greenway and our Blueway meet, right in front of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.”

“The UBS Roanoke office recognizes the value of providing a quality of life focused on our region’s natural resources,” added William Hardin of UBS. “We are very proud to partner with the Roanoke Outside Foundation, Carilion, the City of Roanoke and The Bridges to bring about a resource like this to provide easier access for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy paddling the Roanoke River.”

“Adding a kayak launch is consistent with our vision to create a destination to live, work, and play,” said Aaron Ewert, project manager for The Bridges, a development that includes South 16 apartments, Dr Pepper Park, Starbuck’s and Moe’s Southwest Grill. “A kayak launch in the middle of the urban core is not just a great amenity to support our growing outdoor culture – it’s something people and businesses are seeking when choosing where to live and invest.”

Construction costs were donated by E.C. Pace & Co.  Balzer & Associates, Boxley Materials, ProCon, Ferguson, Home Depot, MB Contractors, Rockydale Quarries and Valley Landscaping.

Financial support for the project came from dozens of businesses and individuals, including Carilion Clinic, UBS Financial Services, Adams Construction and Backcountry.com. Many individuals contributed to the project, which is in memory of Joe Gwaltney, former vice president of Boxley Materials, and Steve Buschor, former director of Roanoke Parks and Recreation.

downtown roanoke kayak launch

[UPDATED March 10, 2016] A downtown Roanoke kayak launch is moving forward thanks to a successful crowdfunding effort led by the Roanoke Outside Foundation on behalf of The Bridges development.

The campaign raised $77,000 in cash and in-kind services to build the launch which is on the Roanoke River at The Bridges near the intersection with Reserve Avenue.

Construction will begin in a few days on the put-in which is halfway between Wasena Park and Piedmont Park. Construction above the water line will be completed by May. The underwater portion will begin after June 30 since instream construction is not permitted from March 30 to June 30 to protect the habitat of the endangered Roanoke logperch.

Construction by E.C. Pace is underway with anticipated completion mid-August.

E.C. Pace getting it done. Anticipated completion mid-August.

Construction is being donated by E.C. Pace & Co. Materials and services have been donated by Balzer & Associates, Boxley Materials, Ferguson, Home Depot, MC Contractors, Rockydale Quarries, and Valley Landscaping.

Financial support for the project came from dozens of businesses and individuals such as Carilion Clinic, UBS Financial Services, Lanford Brothers, Adams Construction, Salem Stone Corp and a personal donation from Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Many individuals supported the project in memory of Joe Gwaltney, former vice president of Boxley Materials.

“This launch is being built with private money – no tax dollars,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation. “The support demonstrates that people believe in investing in new outdoor infrastructure.”

The facility will be managed by Roanoke Parks and Recreation and Roanoke Stormwater Division. There is no cost to use the launch which will make it easier to canoe, kayak, or tube close 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. Amenities onsite will include a viewing platform, steps down to the river, boat storage rack, and informational kiosk that includes a map of the river.

“Adding a kayak launch is consistent with our vision to create a destination to live, work, and play,” said Aaron Ewert, project manager for The Bridges. “A kayak launch in the middle of the urban core is not just a great amenity to support our growing outdoor culture – it’s something people and businesses are seeking when choosing where to live and invest.”

Help Build a Kayak Launch Downtown

The Roanoke River Blueway is one step closer to adding a new kayak launch, but your help is needed to make it a reality.

The proposed put in is located just off Jefferson Avenue, next to The Bridges development, half way between Wasena Park and Piedmont Park (Google map of location).

Through in-kind donations and corporate sponsorship we are on our way to building the first public boat launch built with private money. But we need to raise just a little bit more before construction can begin.

That’s where you come in. Any amount of support you can give for the project will help create this community asset.

Every dollar counts … 100 percent of your tax-deductible contribution will go directly to the kayak launch and will help us continue to push for a future where Roanoke is the greatest place for outdoor recreation.

Make your donation online or mail to:

Roanoke Outside Foundation
111 Franklin Plaza, Suite 333
Roanoke, VA 24011-2111

If you would like to discuss your company or foundation supporting the kayak launch, contact pete@roanoke.org or 540-343-1550 x104.

Thanks to our supporters

Roanoke Mountain Adventures     ~     Timothy Shank     ~     Vinny Likens     ~     Robert Frazier
Twin River Outfitters     ~     John & Dan Mays     ~     Congressman Goodlatte
Russell Bailey     ~     Kemper Fant     ~     Craig Favor     ~     Carrie Cousins     ~     Mark Pace
Mary Paige Gwaltney     ~     Donihe Family     ~     Bart Smith     ~     William H. Fralin Jr.
Aaron Ewert     ~     Eshelman Family     ~     Dominic Basile     ~     Kathleen Morris
Michael Lee     ~     Suzanne Farhat    ~     James Cochrane     ~     Brennan Shepherd
Lynn & Tom Kirby     ~     Rech Family     ~     Gary & Barbara Duerk     ~     Backcountry.com
David & Nicole Aldridge     ~     Jim Mullens     ~     Dennis Neale    ~ River Rock Climbing
Nathan Kerr     ~     Theresa Conti     ~     Thomas Becher

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