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Posted May 18, 2012 | comments 6 Comments

Zip lines proposed for 'Andy' Guest Park

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

The state park in Warren County could be the first of its kind in Virginia to feature a zip line course.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation plans to gather public comments for a proposed tree canopy adventure course at Raymond R. "Andy" Guest Jr. Shenandoah River State Park near Bentonville. The DCR manages state parks in Virginia.

The agency will hold the public input meeting at 6:30 p.m., May 30, in the park visitor center, 350 Daughter of Stars Drive, Bentonville.

If approved, the park would be the first among other facilities in the state to feature a course as proposed, according to Julie Buchanan, public relations specialist with the department.

Virginia Canopy Tours LLC, which submitted the proposal, would like to begin running the adventure course by March 2013, Buchanan said.

Buchanan noted that the proposal is unique for the agency. The DCR has in the past allowed private companies to operate other amenities, such as concessions and rentals for horses or bicycles on state-park property, Buchanan said Friday.

The course would feature a series of above-ground zip lines, observation areas and platforms, according to a press release issued Friday by the state agency. Equipment would be connected to trees and other supporting devices, the release states.

If the DCR accepts the company's proposal, the agency must amend the park's master plan, according to the release. Amendments to a park's master plan requires the agency hold public meetings.

Approval of the master plan amendment would come from the DCR board, Buchanan explained.

Staff with the agency and Virginia Canopy Tours will provide more information at the meeting and answer questions about the proposal.

Virginia Canopy Tours submitted the idea under the state's Public Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act -- another unique aspect of the proposal, according to Buchanan.

The private firm, under the PPEA proposal, would design, build and operate the course under existing state laws and regulations, according to the release. The company would compensate DCR financially for conducting business on park property, the release states.

The agency also will accept comments in writing through June 29. Send comments to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Attn. Chuck Wyatt, 203 Governor St., Richmond, VA 23219.

6 Comments | Leave a comment

    Great! Now Front Royal/Warren County can be known as the Flesh Eating Bacteria Capital of Virginia. A real boon to tourism!

    Paaaleeez! Totally inconsistent w/ this bucolic, natural park. Andy Guest would be twirling in his grave. Let the business guy make a buck someplace else. Picknicking and hiking are just fine w/out the proposed gentrifying enterprise.

    This attraction could quickly become a plaintiff lawyer's picnic, and the County's nightmare, as soon as the first pulley sticks and dumps the frolicking funlover onto a pile of rocks.

    Permitting the vendor to construct the attraction gives the operation an indelible public "seal of approval" that makes the county and the state responsible for the perfect (ask any juror) operation of the equipment every single minute of every single day -- and liable for any and all injuries incurred as a result of any real or perceived malfunction or, heavens forbid, negligence.

    I second the view of VA Woodsman. This is not what the taxpayers (who paid for the park) or Andy Guest, a champion of preservation, had in mind. Moreover, there might be some isolated Isopods in there to whom this development could mean irritation, disruption, and even extinction.

    Voice your opinion - go to the public meeting or send a letter (see below, as listed in the article)!! If enough people disapprove, bring up the issue of threat to wildlife, their habitat, destruction of the park's natural beauty, added liability, etc., maybe we can stop it. But there's no sense in complaining on here if you don't complain when and where it matters. I go to the state parks, because of the peace and tranquility, the hiking, nature walks with my kids, picnicking, etc. A zipline won't attract more people to a state park, it'll just be a perk for certain people that already intended to go to the park. It'll cause a lot of noise and scare away the animals, particularly during the construction phase. Think about how many trees will have to be cut down to clear the path. Those are homes to many squirrels, chipmunks, birds, insects, etc. It's a terrible idea. DCR is strictly in it for the money, not for the betterment of the park.

    Here's the meeting info and the address to write:

    "The agency will hold the public input meeting at 6:30 p.m., May 30, in the park visitor center, 350 Daughter of Stars Drive, Bentonville."

    OR

    "Send comments to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Attn. Chuck Wyatt, 203 Governor St., Richmond, VA 23219."


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