The RDU Airport Authority and Wake County Parks and Recreation have agreed to an amended one-year lease for land adjacent to Lake Crabtree County Park.

Wake County will lease the parcel of land and, in partnership with Triangle Off-Road Cyclists, will maintain and operate the popular system of hiking and mountain biking trails in one-year increments, according to the new agreement. From October 20, 2014, the lease will be automatically renewed each year until 2025, but, as before, either party may terminate the lease at any time with 45 days’ written notice

“It’s a little disturbing because, even in the public eye, a one-year lease gives RDU leverage to pull out and develop the land,” said Lake Crabtree County Park manager Drew Cade. “It’s indicative of a trend to at least consider developing seriously.”

Cade said the lease will also make it extremely difficult to secure funding for trail renovations and reroutes. “In terms of long term resources invested in the trails, nobody’s really going to take that seriously,” he said. “If we pursued a grant, we would not score well in the ranking system because of the short term lease.”

But Cade says the one year lease is better than nothing and that TORC and Wake County can fully return to normal operating conditions.

The original five-year lease between RDU and Wake County expired last December. A March report from the Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C. recommended using the parcel of land with the trails for development, to generate new sources of revenue for the airport.

RDU spokesperson Mindy Hamlin said there has been no discussion among the RDU Airport Authority’s board about any plans to develop the land.

“It’s going to be a while,” Hamlin said.