RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County is going to be riding into the New Year with a new property. It just signed a lease with Raleigh-Durham International Airport to take over an area that cyclists have been using for years.
The area is known as the 286 Property. It is currently owned by RDU Airport Authority and there are No Trespassing signs posted around the property, but soon the 151-acre plot of land will belong to Wake County.
"(It's) real fun trails," said Eric Hewell, who spends quite a lot of time mountain biking through the dense woods and rugged terrain off Old Reedy Creek Road.
Wake County takes over the land on January 1, and it will become part of the county's park system.
"I'm here for it because I love mountain biking and all, but it also encourages the community to go take part in outdoor activities," Hewell said.
Folks who live near the property are hoping the change will ease congestion in the area. They say there's no designated parking lot for cyclists, so they end up parking along the road or outside of homes in the area.
"With the morning commute, there's a lot of people who chose the neighborhood as a parking lot, so it's kind of dangerous in the dark," Shiley Lechner said.
However, not everybody thinks Wake County is doing the right thing. Some pushback that taking over the property is costing the county too much.
Wake County is shelling out more than $5.2 million to get 286 Property.
"It seems kind of expensive, but it's going for something good I think," Hugo Caldron said.
On top of the lease, Wake will be spending up to $3.3 million to add a parking lot, create a small picnic area, remove non-permitted footbridges, and rebuild seven miles' worth of trails.
"We want to look at things like sustainability of the trails. We don't want them to erode or cause environmental damage," said Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Director Chris Snow. "I know that the cycling community is excited to have a legal place to ride. There are a good number of trails in this area, but folks are always looking for more. Hopefully, this will be a win-win for everybody."
Hewell is looking forward to enjoying the changes and thinks it'll add value to the area.
"I feel like with all the companies coming to town and the quality of life (it) comes with, it's is important. So having the trails is ideal," he said.
Wake has the opportunity to extend the lease up to 20 or 30 years. Officials will need to renegotiate the price in the event they decide to extend the lease.