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Bikers, hikers protest RDU possibly eliminating park

Posted August 19

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— Bicyclists and hikers would like to ground a proposal to develop natural areas near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

RDU's long-range plan includes the potential of building an office park and luxury hotels on the hundreds of wooded acres south of Interstate 40 that currently comprise Lake Crabtree County Park.

"To quote John Mayer, they want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. That's not what I want," hiker Joseph Costa said Friday.

Several groups opposed to the proposal are circulating a petition and are organizing a protest from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Rally Point Sports Grill on Harrison Avenue.

The airport owns the land but leases it to Wake County for the park, but opponents said development would destroy popular trails that have been used for decades.

"This is Central Park for us. This is a gem. This is a diamond in the rough," mountain biker Natalie Lew said.

RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said developing the property could generate revenue the airport might need for future expansion.

"We've been very open and honest that, at some point in the future, that land may need to revert back to aviation needs," Sawyer said. "But it may not. We're too early in this process to know."

Opponents say the airport could sell the land to the county or the state if it needs money, and the land could be kept natural.

"What's going to bring tourism dollars into Wake County? A huge recreational space, a wilderness space," Lew said.

Sawyer said the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve such a sale, which he said would be unlikely.


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  • Ronan Cates Aug 20, 12:24 p.m.
    user avatar

    RDU to me appears run by bored managers who want to keep coming up with projects so they are busy and look successful.
    1. Never understood rebuilding the AA terminal. Could it not have been modified.
    2. Tearing down the old terminal. It was still functional with gates.
    3. And now I hear they want to build a walkway between terminals 1 and 2. I ask, how many people would use this every day. Bet it is in the single digits.

    These people need to find something else to occupy themselves other than to burn more NC money.

  • Deborah Hage Aug 20, 11:13 a.m.
    user avatar

    Skip Harris...I'm hearing you, but we are trying to come up with a way that also benefits the Airport, we are not trying to fight RDUAA, we are just letting them know how the community feels. READ THE PETITION.
    There will be a Rally at Rally Point Sport Grill this Sunday to discuss the future of this land. The Airport is fond of telling us this is their land and they can do what they want with it... some of us take exception to this. The Airport is owned by Wake and Durham Counties and paid for by our tax dollars. This land was purchased with land grants paid for with our federal tax dollars. This is OUR land and we SHOULD have a say in how it's used. Once this precious natural resource is gone we can never get it back, so please consider signing the petition and telling the RDU Airport Authority and Wake and Durham Counties NO to the development of this land. http://bit.ly/GreenORC

  • Sam Walker Aug 20, 9:47 a.m.
    user avatar

    If you want nature it moved away a few years ago. What is left is an ocean of rotting development, and you are trying to fight one little piece of tax subsidized trash. Maybe if we at least had impact fees the growth would be a little more reasonable. Give up. They won. They won years ago.

  • Skip Harris Aug 20, 12:07 a.m.
    user avatar

    You could also view this as if they have allowed you to use their land for free for all of this time. Now y'all are trying to demand that they continue to do so without being paid anything. It would have been better for them not to allow any use of it at all. Maybe that will affect future agreements of this type where the public is able to use private land. Just throwing that out there.

  • Deborah Hage Aug 19, 11:48 p.m.
    user avatar

    Please sign the petition to save this greenspace!!!!

  • Ed McKim Aug 19, 10:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    apparently you can't quote two people in one post. So here's the other response:

    Len, I think you are thinking of Umstead Park, which is a State Park, owned by NC, and untouchable by the RDUAA. The land in question is most of the land area, other than the beach and lake, which are still leased to the county for another 10 years or so, and the wooded area between the Umstead entrance on ORC, and I-40.

    The other comment was obviously about the Joni Mitchell song. I messed that up too, since I think the Counting Crows actually covered it in the early 2000s. Sad!

  • Ed McKim Aug 19, 10:35 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Written by Joni Mitchell, you are correct, also covered by The Counting Crows in the 90s, which is probably who he is confusing with John Mayer.

  • Len White Aug 19, 8:19 p.m.
    user avatar

    Here’s the way this has gone down:

    First, they restricted access to the Park by blocking motor vehicle entry at three major entrance points, viz. Graylyn Dr. near Ebenezer Church Rd, Reedy Creek Rd & Trenton Rd., and Old Reedy Creek Rd. near Lake Crabtree.

    Next, they limited motor vehicle parking at all the access points they blocked.

    Now, they’re going to say that not many folks use the park, so why not use the land for something else….

    I’m not buying this argument….

    In fact, I may use it as an example in my upcoming book, "Never Buy Barbecue from a Pig."

    Len White

  • Craig Elliott Aug 19, 8:15 p.m.
    user avatar

    "To quote John Mayer, they want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. That's not what I want," hiker Joseph Costa said Friday."

    "Big Yellow Taxi", Joni Mitchell, 1970

    You can't be a hippie, even a neo-hippie, and not know this....