Group seeks to buy RDU land to expand Umstead Park
Posted July 19
Raleigh, N.C. — A Virginia-based conservation group has offered Raleigh-Durham International Airport about $6.5 million to buy property near the airport that area hikers and bikers want to maintain for their own use.
Under the offer by the Conservation Fund, the 105 acres would be added to nearby Umstead State Park and would preserve miles of existing trails. The group said it hired an appraiser to obtain a fair-market value for the land.
RDU officials have been looking for ways to translate some of their real estate into revenue streams that will fund future airport expansions.
Wake County officials have eyed the area for a cycling center to make the Triangle an outdoor recreation destination.
Airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said officials are reviewing the Conservation Fund's proposal, but no decisions have been made regarding the future of that tract.
Environmental and biking groups say they worry that RDU could lease the land to operate as a quarry.
"We are extremely hopeful that RDU is ready to work with the community to expand Umstead State Park and protect an irreplaceable and popular recreational space that has been enjoyed by locals for decades," Jean Spooner, chairwoman of the Umstead Coalition, said in a statement.
The airport also would need to get Federal Aviation Administration approval before any land deal could be completed.