The Raleigh Durham Airport plans to develop 600+ acres of land adjacent to the airport.  The plans include building a hotel and office park on the current mountain biking trails at Lake Crabtree County Park and building a rock quarry on nearby land bordering Umstead State Park, Old Reedy Creek Road, and Crabtree Creek.  We have a better idea - an urban trail center – a forested recreation area that would be an economic draw to this area in addition to enhancing quality of life and promoting recreation. The FAA allows this use on airport property. And, yes it would entail revenue streams for the airport via leases to outdoor retail, bike rental, conference/meeting space, hotel, parking, café, zip lines, and more!

The airport is owned by Durham County, Wake County, the City of Raleigh, and the City of Durham.  So, as citizens, we have a say in what our airport does….AS LONG AS WE SPEAK OUT!  Please help make our citizen voices be heard.

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (RDU AA) recently completed Vision 2040, an 18 month process of developing an airport Master Plan.  The FAA describes an airport master plan as "a comprehensive study of an airport, describing the short-, medium-, and long-term development plans needed to meet future aviation demand.”  Thus, Vision2040 guides the future development of facilities immediately at the RDU Airport and the development of all lands owned by the airport.

Nine public workshops were held by the RDU AA, the first 6 workshops did not address non-aviation land use.  At the 7th public workshop, held on June 28, 2016, the proposed land-use plan was unveiled and this land-use plan recommends extensive commercial and industrial development in and around Lake Crabtree County Park and Umstead State Park.  commercially developing about 600+ acres of forested land.  The forested areas marked for development include land directly adjacent to both Umstead State Park and Crabtree Creek and much of the land within Lake Crabtree County Park, the most heavily used park in the Wake County Park system.  These centrally-located forested lands are a unique and distinguishing feature of the Triangle Region, and their loss would have a negative impact on the local community.

The master planning process revealed that none of these lands are required for runways, terminals, parking, or any other facility directly related to passengers or aircraft at the RDU facility.  The planners propose to use these lands for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the airport by leasing them to developers to build office space, hotels, and a quarry.

The development of these 600+ acres of forested land will have 2 major negative impacts to the Triangle Region – environmental and access to recreation (which fosters an active and healthy lifestyle).  Development will result in the destruction of an important green space buffer between the airport facilities and Umstead State Park and will negatively affect hundreds of acres within the Crabtree Creek watershed.  Development will also result in the destruction of an irreplaceable, centrally-located, forested recreation area.  This forested area has approximately 38 miles of existing recreational trails built by local residents and is used by multiple activity groups including runners, hikers, walkers (with and without dogs), mountain bikers, Boy Scout troops, bird watchers; multiple age groups (adults and kids); and multiple skill level groups (beginners to advanced).

This area is also the nexus of greenway connectivity in the Triangle.  Cary, Raleigh, and (soon) Morrisville have invested in greenways that use this corridor as a critical connection point.  Many Triangle residents can access this recreation area from their homes and workplaces without having to drive!  This ready access to forested outdoor recreation land fosters an active and healthy lifestyle.  Furthermore, this forested area also fosters family outdoor recreation as many beginner, kid-friendly trails and play areas are available.  With all of these factors, this centrally located forested playground area serves to greatly increase the quality of life of all Triangle Region residents and the loss of this gem would be devastating to the entire community.