On The Record: Lake Crabtree County Park

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Lake Crabtree County Park

A rumor recently surfaced that the Airport Authority was going to close Lake Crabtree County Park, which has become a favored spot for boating, hiking and picnicking. But it is just that. A rumor. The Airport Authority has no plans to close Lake Crabtree County Park. However, there are other parcels of airport-owned land that may be suitable for future airport development. 

The Backstory

The Airport Authority owns nearly 5,000 acres of land, almost 2,000 of which will never be used for aeronautical purposes. For this reason, the Airport Authority wanted to know how it could responsibly develop this land. To answer this question, we commissioned the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Washington, D.C. to conduct an in-depth study of these parcels.

The ULI Study

The ULI panel studied five parcels of land. Early on, the airport ruled out Lake Crabtree County Park as an area for development. It did however include in the study a parcel located between I-40 and the park. It is this 149-acre tract that ULI identified as a possible location for office space. This recommendation came after the panel interviewed 80 community leaders and government officials from our region.

The Airport Authority leased this parcel to Wake County in conjunction with a local mountain bike group, which develops and maintains bike paths on the property. During its presentation to the Airport Authority board, ULI noted that the parcel would be attractive to businesses in part because of the bike trails and its proximity to Lake Crabtree County Park.

This is where the recommendation stopped. It is now up to the airport to determine if or when it will pursue ULI’s suggestions.

Why Development

Why is the Airport Authority considering developing land it owns that will not be used for aeronautical purposes? The answer is simple. Like airports across the country, RDU can no longer depend upon airline activity, the passenger facility charge and federal grants to pay for major airport projects. As a result, we must find new ways to generate revenue that will allow us to maintain and develop the world-class facilities our region has come to expect.

Even though there are no current development plans for the 149-acre parcel adjacent to the park, we must allow ourselves the flexibility to develop this parcel when and if we decide to. For this reason, the Airport Authority is renegotiating its lease.

The Bottom Line

Lake Crabtree County Park is an important part of our region’s fabric, and the airport has no plans to develop it. At RDU we are committed to developing our land in a way that benefits not only the airport but also our region. However, we will continue to study other parcels, including the area adjacent to the park, as part of our future airport development.

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10 Responses to On The Record: Lake Crabtree County Park

  1. It looks like you are defining “Park” to mean only the built Park areas and about a third of the trail system. By comparing the area marked “Parcel D” on the map purported to be from the ULI study to the map of the Lake Crabtree County Park trail system, there is substantial overlap between suggested development and the existing trails. This looks like a major loss to the LCCP trail system and a substantial impact to the function and character of the park. While you may not be outright dishonest in your post, at the very least you are picking your words carefully to suggest to the casual reader that there will be no impact to the park. This is misleading, as a comparison of the two maps demonstrates.

    Lake Crabtree County Park trail system map available here: http://www.wakegov.com/parks/lakecrabtree/Documents/Lake%20Crabtree%20Park%20Brochure%203-2013.pdf
    ULI study map available here: http://www.savethecrab.org/

  2. Tank says:

    The park and the trails should be considered one and the same. You can’t say on one hand Lake Crabtree park is fine but move forward to develop the parcel with the trails. There would be almost nothing left if you develope the 149 acre tract of Lake Crabtree and all biking/hiking trails would be gone. All the land on that side of I40 should be left alone for recreation/nature.

  3. huroncrusher says:

    As a local hiker and cyclist, I am beyond disappointed with the disingenuous way RDUAA is playing with words. The community at large views the Lake Crabtree County Park as inclusive of the greenspace between Hwy 40 and Lake Crabtree. That includes the 149-acre tract of land on which the trails have been built and thousands use each week, but which you persist calling an “area adjacent to the park”. While that may be technically true, nobody with common sense views it that way. When you drive, run, walk, or cycle into the park there is no distinction on where the Park ends and the “area adjacent” begins. That’s like saying the airport doesn’t include the runways. One cannot exist without the other and nobody views them as separate elements with exception of RDUAA and the developers waiting to pounce on bull-dozing the only multi-use trail system in the Triangle.

  4. cbanks says:

    The parcel mentioned. This is the parcel that was not renewed which IS part of Lake Crabtree park and contains all of the walking, hiking, and mountain biking trails. Nice word game play here…

    The parcel of land adjacent to the “park” is part of what the community (Morrisville, Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and Durham residents) consider to be Lake Crabtree County Park, if you want to dismiss it and pretend like 100,000 people don’t use these trails (the 148 acres in question) annually, is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. Telling your readers those 148 acres which have been a part of the park since 1994 is suddenly not part of the park is misleading. There is no confusion of what land we are talking about but it does appear that RDU Airport does not realize how important this land (in its current state) is to the community at large.

    Here is a link to the map of the park. You will see that the map includes the land on which the trails are located. The majority of the trails on that map are in the area which is covered by the 5 year lease, which has yet to be renewed since it expired at the end of last year.

    http://www.wakegov.com/parks/lakecrabtree/Documents/Lake%20Crabtree%20Park%20Brochure%203-2013.pdf

  5. codybks says:

    This parcel is part of Lake Crabtree park AND the parcel that was not renewed by RDU Authority. This parcel consists of wildlife, hiking, walking, and mountain biking trails.

    The parcel of land adjacent to the “park” is part of what the community (Morrisville, Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and Durham residents) consider to be Lake Crabtree County Park, if you want to dismiss it and pretend like 100,000+ people don’t use these trails (the 148 acres in question) annually, is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. Telling your readers those 148 acres which have been a part of the park since 1994 is suddenly not part of the park is misleading. There is no confusion of what land we are talking about but it does appear that RDU Airport does not realize how important this land (in its current state) is to the community at large.

    Here is a link to the map of the park. You will see that the map includes the land on which the trails are located. The majority of the trails on that map are in the area which is covered by the 5 year lease, which has yet to be renewed since it expired at the end of last year. RDU Authority at fault.

    http://www.wakegov.com/parks/lakecrabtree/Documents/Lake%20Crabtree%20Park%20Brochure%203-2013.pdf

  6. GregC says:

    “the parcel would be attractive to businesses in part because of the bike trails”…so you would build those businesses on top of the trails? That makes zero sense.

    Perhaps, in addition to ULI, you should have included local groups to help with your study…ULI and the airport authority would then have a better understanding of how this land is already of value to the local community. The trails (which are as much a part of the park as the waterfront) are enjoyed by thousands of workers (and business owners) in the RTP area because of its excellent location and quality of trails.

    Also, whether intentional or not, misleading the public into thinking this land is somehow separate from the County park, makes it hard to trust anything coming from the RDUAA…that’s not a good look for what is essentially a local government.

  7. fibercut says:

    The North Carolina General Assembly did not create the RDU Airport Authority to engage in commercial real estate development that is not directly related to running an airport. If the RDUAA has 2000 acres of excess land, it should put them on the market. The idea that the RDUAA can do anything it wants in order to generate income is crazy. It’s mission creep, plain and simple, and it also exposes RDUAA stakeholders to risk that the commercial real estate development will actually turn out to be unsuccessful.

    There are too many developers and construction executives on the RDUAA Board.

    There is no near-term or intermediate-term threat to RDUAA’s ability to fund airport operation or expansion. Indeed, after completing the rebuild of the two terminals and with more parking lot space than the airport will need 25 years from now, the only capital project on the horizon for RDUAA is a CONRAC and a people mover to get to the CONRAC.

  8. Ed says:

    I agree with many of the other replies. This post is very misleading. I definitely consider the trails the second main component of the park after the lake. If the development is pursued let us make sure there is a real public discussion before it occurs.

  9. Chris says:

    Perhaps instead of stating “The Airport Authority has no plans to close Lake Crabtree County Park” the accurate statement should be “The Airport Authority is considering removing approximately 80% of the land from Wake County’s Lake Crabtree County Park.” Trail and park closures are managed by Wake County parks and recreation staff; this includes all of the land from Lake Crabtree to I-40. To claim that Lake Crabtree County Park is not being considered for development is ridiculous considering how both parcels of land are managed daily as one unit. The popularity of the facilities for hiking and picnicking will be severely diminished if buildings are constructed in lieu of a wooded buffer zone to the interstate.

  10. Chris says:

    I think most people, when they think of Lake Crabtree Park, think that it includes the hiking/biking trails which are in the parcel that *is* slotted for development. In addition, the rather small and narrow area that would be left undeveloped would be negatively impacted by having a large development so close. It is unlikely that the park would continue to be (in the words of the blog entry) a “favored spot for boating, hiking and picnicking” with so much of the existing attractions removed. This is not an adequate response to community concerns.

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