The Roanoke Parks Foundation was formed in 2022 with the mission to “support the City of Roanoke’s Parks and Recreation Department (also referred to as “PLAY Roanoke”) by raising funds, accepting gifts, and providing other resources.” At the conclusion of their first year, the Roanoke Parks Foundation raised sufficient matching funds for Roanoke Parks and Recreation to purchase a portable climbing tower to use throughout the City.
“The tower was received by the Department in April, and staff have begun operational training and completing the permitting process,” says Patrick Boas, Recreation Manager for Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “Once we are approved to hit the road, we look forward to bringing the new climbing tower to a park near you!”
Initial plans for the climbing tower include pop-ups at the Free Summer Fun days at Washington Park as well as visiting campers in the Summer P.L.A.Y. Camp, which offers an all-day program at three recreation centers. Beyond summer, PLAY Roanoke staff plan to utilize the climbing tower at events in Elmwood Park, the Roanoke GO Outside Festival, and other pop-up locations.
“This is a great first project for the Foundation because it allows our Department to offer programs across the City,” Boas adds. “In the past, we’ve rented climbing towers for events, which came out of our total budget. Being able to operate this ourselves means we can reallocate those funds to other programming or equipment needs.”
Across the country, Parks and Recreation Departments comparable to Roanoke typically receive around 4-6% of their annual City budget, while Roanoke Parks and Recreation receives less than 2% of the City of Roanoke budget. Throughout the pandemic, Roanoke’s park facilities have experienced increased use and the demand for recreation programming has grown tremendously. However, the Department’s funding falls short of its needs. The Roanoke Parks Foundation has demonstrated the ability for a non-profit to fill the gaps in Department funding.
“The Foundation was pleased to assist PLAY Roanoke in acquiring the tower for its programming needs,” said Andy Gill, Roanoke Parks Foundation Board President. “The mobility of this wall and the potential to take it directly to events, recreation centers, and neighborhood parks was an important factor as it prioritizes equity of access and inclusion. We look forward to seeing it in action soon!”
Moving forward, the Roanoke Parks Foundation is interested in focusing its efforts on supporting implementation of the Mill Mountain Trails Plan. More information about the Foundation can be found at www.PlayRoanoke.com/Roanoke-Parks-Foundation.