Written by Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition
I attended yesterday’s (Feb 17, 2020) Wake County Commissioners "Growth and Sustainability" Committee meeting. There was an agenda item “Lake Crabtree Park Expansion” with no details. The Committee's members were: Sig Hutchinson, Matt Calabria and Susan Evans. Also attending were Commissioners Vickie Adamson and Greg Ford.
Getting legal mountain biking trails on the "286" tract
The subject of this discussion was getting legal trails on the “286” tract. Fabulous topic! Now, it’s on the official Wake County’s open discussions, which is great. Bill Sandifer from the RDU Airport Authority (RDUAA) was invited to be at the table to ask questions — of which there were many! I am pleased to report that the Commissioners are engaged. But, they also sent plenty of signals to RDUAA that they are concerned about how the RDUAA is managing their public property and the best path forward. The RDUAA representative indicated they “heard” the Commissioners concerns and their willingness and desire to work out solutions.
The Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) published an article about the meeting, odd since they were not in attendance, perhaps why that article misrepresented the committee’s full discussions. The discussion included the value of the trails to the community and the connected Park systems, as well as concerns about the proposed fence, quarry, loss of trails at Lake Crabtree County Park, County trail priorities, costs and the need for county staff to evaluate options before the Commissioners could have meaningful discussions.
The only actions from the Committee members were to ask County staff to talk with stakeholders and report back to the same Committee on March 16, 2020. And, asked “Dr Spooner” to have an opportunity to speak at that meeting as well. Matt Calabria asked for the “Lake Crabtree County Park Trails” to be included!
Lake Crabtree County Park to become an office park
In a disturbing discussion: RDUAA is still planning on building (e.g., Office Park, now also with Beer Garden that was attributed to “Mike Landguth’s idea”) on all the “upland” areas outside of the 100-year floodplain. That is 99% of our current single-track/pedestrian trails at Lake Crabtree County Park – trails gone!
The TBJ article did point out the proposed “quarry” was still being seen by a few as a way to fund the “lease” of the “286” tract. TBJ quote from Commissioner “Hutchinson says that’s [quarry funding up to 10 years of lease for 286] still on the table.” More than one Commissioner indicated during the Committee meeting that this source of funding should not be considered for this purpose. And Commissioner Vickie Adamson suggested that the “286 lease” be funded by the savings of not building the fence (go Vickie!).
The quarry funding the trails on "286" is not a good compromise
My thoughts: any linkage of the disastrous quarry for this purpose does not accomplish much good, but a grave net loss. We would, at best, have only 10 years of trails on “286” serving only as a “holding area” for the quarry to make their 400 pit much, much bigger and deeper. And, I predict, this would also result in a quicker loss of our precious Lake Crabtree County Park trails. This is no “compromise” or good public deal (the only entity to benefit would be a private quarry). Destroying our public lands at great loss of true trail and revenue-generating opportunities and disastrous impacts to our beloved Umstead State Park is too great a public cost. Any ties to the private quarry for trails is bad public policy and a trap.
The real solutions include legal trails at Lake Crabtree, 286, Odd Fellows and Umstead State Park. And, no private quarry on our public lands!
See The Umstead Coalition's and Triangle Off-Road Cyclists (TORC) Trail Center proposal here.
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