November 5, 2019: Written by Natalie Lew to the Cities of Raleigh & Durham and Wake & Durham Counties
A business opportunity including restaurants; small to medium meeting and entertainment venues; and outdoor recreation-education-team building features that creates an airport campus which benefits the airport, residents, travelers, businesses, etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information in full. I am part of a volunteer group that has presented an idea to the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (RDAUAA) that has much benefit to the airport, the airport campus, and the region. One that provides long-term financial income to our airport, creates an airport campus that supports local businesses and attracts visitors from afar, preserves the Odd Fellows land, and protects Umstead State Park. This idea is an alternative to the proposed new 400 foot deep rock pit on the Odd Fellows land which only provides short-term income to the airport, will stop the airport campus from becoming an economic benefit to the RDU International Airport and the greater community, and would lead to the destruction of an extremely rare and irreplaceable gem - a large forested natural environment located in the middle of our metropolitan area.
The RDUAA might say that this issue is about a spoiled group of mountain bikers that is trespassing on their land. That is totally wrong. This is about our community and our quality of life. This is about the history of our land. This is about the Boy Scouts who can no longer camp in the area as they have done since the 1950’s. This is about the running clubs, the bird-watching groups, the fisherman, the hikers, the boulderers, and many other groups that use the area. This is about families that bring their children to walk, ride, and socialize on the greenway leading to our state park. This is about our health and the health of our environment. This is about the animals that live in the state park and surrounding areas. This is about the loss of the last and final enclave of forested space next to the most used state park.
This is about the fact that we have a really, really good proposal for a business opportunity other than a rock quarry and this idea benefits so many more people than does this rock quarry. Imagine an airport adjacent to a resort - a resort with a base village like a ski resort. The base village includes restaurants, shopping, entertainment, entertainment venues, conference centers, zip lines, ropes courses, rock climbing wall, pump track, equipment rentals, etc. The base village is the gateway to the forest and its activities. I travel with my regular job and have had many occasions in which the team flies to an airport, stays at the airport hotel for a meeting, and then gets the heck out of there because there is nothing to do. Currently, nobody flies into RDU to hold a meeting at RDU and nobody comes to the airport area for shopping/entertainment. The RDU Forest Village will change that. Companies will want to hold meetings on the RDU airport campus; travelers and locals will want to visit and/or stay on the airport campus to experience the multitude of available activities.
The preservation of the Odd Fellows tract is important in making the airport campus an effective and viable business and tourism destination. A ski village does not exist without its adjacent ski slopes. They have a symbiotic relationship. RDU airport will be stronger and better if it preserves the Odd Fellows tract and works in concert with Umstead State Park and the community that owns it. The trails and activities hosted within these forested lands is what draws people to the base village. The base village supports the visitors. The base village, given its proximity to the airport and the park, facilitates access to a destination that draws visitors and customers from not only the local community, but from the flying community as well. The business and tourism destination benefits to both the airport and the community will be lost without preservation of the Odd Fellows land.
After you have reviewed the pages that follow, please feel free to contact me via phone or email with questions. Let me know if you want to tour the area for an overview of the situation and our proposal. Our group is confident that our proposal will create a benefit to all and will create a unique airport and airport campus, one that is not replicated anywhere in this country, let alone the world. My ask: please consider 1) openly stating you are in favor of preserving the Odd Fellows tract and 2) facilitating the creation of the RDU Forest Village Concept on the RDU Airport campus.
Read the full proposal here.
Learn more about the RDU Forest Village Vision here.
The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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