Vinton will open the Tinker Creek canoe launch to the community Wednesday, making it the first public boat ramp in town.
The boat launch was originally built in 1985 for water rescues but will now open to the community as area residents clamor for more access points to the Roanoke River Blueway. Residents have asked for the launch to be opened to the public for more than a decade, but the town didn’t have the money to make it a reality until now.
“We need to get on with other localities,” said Anita McMillan, the town’s planning and zoning director. “Other localities have greenways and other things. It’s not that we don’t want that, it has just been a matter of prioritizing the needs like water, sewer, etc. We have to do those and a small town can’t afford to do as much with the greenways as some other places.”
Using grant funds from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and local donations, Vinton spent the past couple of months adding more parking, signs, fencing, a canoe rack and updating the Tinker Creek canoe launch area on Third Street in Vinton. The town didn’t spend any of its own money to make the area friendlier, but used public works employees and resources to do much of the work.
The Roanoke River Blueway flows for 45 miles from Montgomery County to Bedford County at Smith Mountain Lake and includes Tinker Creek and the Roanoke River. Of the 15 blueway access points, most are open to the public, said Shane Sawyer, a regional planner with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.
The Roanoke River Greenway and the blueway have a symbiotic relationship, and as the greenway improves and grows people expect the same from the nearby waterway, Sawyer said. The greenway parallels the blueway for 15 miles through Roanoke, Salem, Roanoke County and Vinton. Both are part of the effort to brand the Roanoke Valley as an outdoors friendly community for the purposes of attracting both tourism and economic development.
Greenway officials hear a lot of demand for more ramps on the blueways, Roanoke Valley Greenways coordinator Liz Belcher said.
“Boaters, they don’t necessarily require something to get in,” Belcher said. “They’ll just get in. But what the boat ramp does, truthfully, is it helps people who are more of a novice user.”
The boat ramps can also reduce damage to stream banks by giving boaters a more defined area of where to get in and out of the water, Belcher said.
There will be a ribbon cutting for the Tinker Creek canoe launch at 9 a.m. Wednesday at 801 Third St., across from the town’s public works building.