Local News

RDU eases worries about Lake Crabtree park takeover

Posted October 8, 2014 4:39 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2014 7:23 p.m. EDT

— Representatives of Raleigh-Durham International Airport are trying to ease the minds of residents and bicyclists who frequent the trails in and around Lake Crabtree County Park, saying they have no immediate plans to redevelop the area.

The tract, southeast of the airport between Interstate 40 and Aviation Parkway, is actually two properties, the 33-acre park, which is leased to the county through 2025, and the area around the park, where the bike trails are.

Both are owned by the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and leased to Wake County at cost. When the most recent agreement ended, the airport opted to renegotiate.

Airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said the airport opted to let the lease lapse to negotiate a shorter term to give them flexibility.

Without a guarantee, park users are worried that development will take away their access.

Members of the Triangle Off-Road Cyclists group started a letter-writing campaign and launched a website that warns, "If RDU moves forward with this plan, it would KILL ALL THE TRAILS in the Lake Crabtree and surrounding areas."

"Any amount of development would be extremely detrimental," said David Housekeeper. "A lot of beginners, lots of families, lots of children come to this park specifically because of the friendliness of the trails."

The idea of any development doesn't sit well with Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman. He's reached out to Raleigh and Cary mayors and to members of the RDU authority to voice his concern.

"It's one of the reasons people come and live in our area," he said. Development of a public recreation area would, he said, "destroy the very thing that makes that airport busy and makes us as successful as we are."

Hamlin said no development is imminent.

"We have no plans to develop that land at this time," she said.

And the airport authority understands the value of the trails. A study of possible uses pointed that out.

"They did look at this 149-acre parcel of land as a possible place for office development," Hamlin said. "They said one reason it is attractive is because of the bike trails and because of its proximity to Lake Crabtree County Park, so those two things could live together."

Juan Pedraza, vice president of Triangle Off-Road Cyclists, said any change would be detrimental.

"If you reduce the amount of trails, it won’t be the same," he said.

"It's ground zero for all of us, very dear to our heart. It will always be our home trail."