Thursday, November 4, 2010

latest statement from NC Parks re: parking and paving

Paul contacted Charles Peek for additional information about the proposed plans for parking and paving at Umstead as informal conversations with a PAC member and a ranger had provided somewhat contradictory information. Please see below for Mr Peek's response via e-mail. We are pleased to see that paving the gravel surface road leading to the Sycamore Day Use area is not withing the scope of this project. What is unclear is whether paving is still under consideration for the future. As we have previously stated, paving would significantly worsen the current significant safety issues involving cars traveling too fast, and runners/bikers/etc. not following basic safety rules. To quote one of the rangers, "paving was a stupid idea."

Mr. Fisher,

Your idea to share information about the project on our website is indeed a good one. It would be to the benefit of the park and the community for everyone to have a clear idea of how traffic patterns at William B. Umstead State Park will be altered by our plans to add parking and access areas. Unfortunately, we are not quite to that point, yet. The effort to improve traffic flow at both the visitor center and the Sycamore Day Use Area is a joint project of DPR and the DOT. Details of the project are still undergoing revision and it’s yet to be decided which portions of the project will be undertaken by DOT and which may be bid to contractors.

To recap, the major components of the project are:
To improve and widen the gravel-surface road to the Sycamore Day Use area (This road would not be paved in the scope of this project.);
To improve the Sycamore parking area with better organization for passenger vehicles and horse trailers and with a new gravel surface;
To construct a section of multi-use trail to link the Sycamore parking area to the multi-use trail network;
And, to create a new parking area on an unused roadbed behind the visitor center. This one-way spur is expected to accommodate up to 58 vehicles.

The state parks system is committed to this project, although it’s obvious that state budget constraints and other current priorities may slow our progress a bit more than we’d like. But, we will make plans to display progress on the project on our website when construction is imminent. As always, thanks for your interest in the park.
Charlie Peek
Public Information Officer
N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation
Mobile 919.218.4622

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No sunshine when it comes to Graylyn

We continue to have serious questions about the ethics surrounding the Graylyn issue

What we know:
DOT was somehow able to prioritize paving this short, dead-end road with few residents--thus eliminating the roadside parking and greatly restricting access at this point even to neighbors living close to this entrance but not directly on Graylyn.

One of these residents at the Graylyn entrance, Sam Greenway, not only serves on the Umstead Park Advisory Committee but also utilized his position as part of the PAC to effectively persuade the others to eliminate prior plans for parking at Graylyn from the draft of the General Management Plan in a PAC meeting on 11/14/07. Of course, one of the recurrent concerns brought up was security. We attended PAC meetings where Mr Greenway made sure his statement of finding "condoms and needles" at Graylyn repeatedly made its way into the PAC meeting minutes. We also attended a meeting with Rep. Weiss where Billy Totten, former regional superintendent, added to the theatrics by indicating they did not want anything similar to the Eve Carson situation to happen at Umstead. We understand that security can be a valid concern. But based on our own experiences and in talking with others, while we saw people use poor judgment in selecting places to park at times of high demand, we NEVER, EVER observed evidence of illicit,illegal or threatening activity. We once observed beer bottles and remains of fireworks that we assumed were left from neighborhood teenagers. We attempted to learn the truth about the security issue at Graylyn to learn whether these concerns were valid or.... Paul requested the incident data from Carol Tingley, Chief of Natural Resource and Regional Planning, on 12/9/09 and has never heard back from her.

Another PAC member repeatedly made statements about the "uproar" from public meetings eons ago when the issue of having Graylyn as the main entrance was discussed. We note this was a very separate issue that had occurred in the remote past--and does not seem to have any bearing on being able to access the park from Graylyn. The current issue did not involve Graylyn as a main entrance--only continued use of it as an access for more than a select few. Ironically, NC Parks chose to ignore the current "uproar" of the petitioners and conveniently dismissed the majority opinion of their own survey of public opinion when making their decision about Graylyn. As NC Parks opted for their original plans, we believe all they did was allowed all of us to speak--but had no intention of listening. We find their decision both fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. Most parks are trying to reverse the adverse impact of increased vehicular traffic and NC Parks' decision only increases it by having cars come into the park rather than access it from the perimeter.

Also, effectively their decision gave the park superintendent and Mr Greenway private entrances to the park.

Is this how government is supposed to work?

Monday, March 29, 2010

compromise needed for parking at Manorbrook

The Public Works committee recently had a split vote on the petition by the Manorbrook Rd residents in the Lakes of Umstead Community to eliminate parking in their neighborhood. Russ Stephenson and Bonner Gaylord voted for a compromise to allow parking on one side of the road; John Odom voted to eliminate parking and Mary Baldwin wanted to have a full council vote. Fortunately, Mayor Meeker recommended an opportunity for public comment through 4/6 when the issue will be revisited. As you may know, this type of compromise was previously agreed upon for Trenton Woods Way as a temporary parking solution. As always, we encourage everyone to remain considerate of the neighbors to allow for continued access.

As you can see, the city council needs to hear from you. Phone calls to John Odom (996-3000) and Mary Ann Baldwin is also encouraged (828-5591). We support the compromise allowing for parking on one side of the road as put forth by Mr Stephenson and Mr Gaylord.

To contact the entire city council at once, e-mail them at or contact each of them individually at the following e-mail addresses:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bike Lanes on Hillsborough St

We received an e-mail today from DT, a fellow cyclist, informing us about the Hillsborough Street Bike Lanes being on the agenda for the City of Raleigh Public Works agenda tomorrow. Please see the link below for information and actions you can take to help:

Request from Sig Hutchinson re: Greenways

Please read the e-mail from Sig below. Based on our experiences, Access Umstead is all too familiar with rude and vocal groups making the same tired argument...

Action Alert – Action Needed
Your Greenways Are under Threat!!!!
(Please Forward)

Within several years, your greenway system in the Triangle will soon span hundreds of miles from the Falls Lake Dam through Raleigh or down the Neuse River to Umstead Park, Cary (and many more towns and cities) connecting up to the American Tobacco Trail and then to Durham. AMAZING!!!! But now the greenway system is under threat of being severed by a small group of VERY vocal neighbors in Summerfield North subdivision, (North Raleigh off Strickland Rd.) who are literally objecting to signage directing users through their subdivision on public streets and sidewalks for the 2 ½ blocks to where the greenway restarts heading south towards Shelly Lake. Staff has said they have never seen such a rude and vocal group of citizens at a public meetings shouting down our supporters and basically making a spectacle. They proposed two alternate routes that would add unnecessary time, cost and distance to a direct link though the neighborhood. (You might be reading the ongoing battle in the N. Raleigh News) They are making the same old tired arguments about crime, vandals and property values; all of which is totally untrue and in fact, the opposite is true.

Property Values


What can you do?

Contact members of the Raleigh City Council and the Parks and Greenways Advisory Board

Mayor - Charles Meeker - A - Nancy McFarlane - (This is in her District)At-Large - Russ Stephenson - (Chair, Public Works Committee)District B - John Odom - (Member, Public Works Committee)District E - Bonner Gaylord - (Member, Public Works Committee) District C - James West - (Mayor Pro Tempore)At-Large - Mary-Ann Baldwin - D - Thomas Crowder -
Entire City Council at once –

Then CC. the Members of the Parks & Greenways Advisory Board

Mr. Eugene Weeks (Chair) -
Mr. Jimmy Thiem (Vice-Chair) –
Ms. Gail Till –
Mr. Greg Barley -
Mr. Kevin Brice –
Ms. Doris Burke –
Mr. Jay Chaudhuri –
Mr. Mark Turner –
Mr. Scott Reston –
Ms Rebecca Oxholm –
Ms. Jan Pender –
Ms. Elaine Perkinson –
Ms. Shoshanna Serxner –
Mr. Christopher Smith –
Mr. Gerald Wright –

Subject: Honeycutt Greenway

“Please complete the Honeycutt Greenway in North Raleigh in the most direct way possible, including a direct link through Summerfield North. Our greenways are of real value to our community and the interconnection of our system is one of its greatest strengths.”

You can add about how much you love and use the greenway, and how much you appreciate the City Council funding the expansion of our greenway system if you would like. Sign it and your good to go.


You Can Attend a Meeting

We need some people in the audience to counter the large group of opposition that will be out in force. You don’t need to say anything but simply be there to support the greenways. In talking with City Councilors and Parks Board members, this group is a very intimidating crowd and we need to neutralize their impact so our elected officials will have the support and courage to do the right thing. Most importantly, this sets a precedent for elected officials and Boards in the future to do the right thing when uninformed neighbors show up trying to sever the greenway. These elected and appointed leaders need to know that the public support the greenway system and most importantly, the interconnectivity of our system.


Parks, Recreation & Greenways Advisory Board
Thursday, January 21st, 6:00 pm, City Council Chamber of the Raleigh Municipal Building, Avery C. Upchurch Complex, located at 222 W. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.
You can sign up for a 2 minute public comment at the beginning but this is not necessary
(But your presence is important)

City Council Meeting
Tuesday, February 2nd at 1:00 in the Council Chambers, 2nd Floor Municipal Building
222 W. Hargett St. Raleigh, NC

The meeting starts at 1:00 pm, This will be part of the PRGAB report that should be around 2:00 but you never really know. They could approve it or refer it to the Public Works Committee, (Most likely) to be worked out there and then to come back to City Council at a later date.

Public Works Committee
Tuesday, February 9th at 5:00, and Tuesday, February 23rd 5:00 (2nd and 4th Tuesday)
Council Chambers 2nd Floor - 222 W. Hargett St. Raleigh, NC

Once in Public Works, Chairperson Stephenson decides when it is to be placed on the agenda, so we won’t know till later when it will be heard by the PW committee. If you are planning to attend these later meetings, e-mail me at and I can keep you posted to the latest information.

I’ll thank you in advance for your support and attention. Rarely do I ask for help and when it do, I promise it’s important!!!

Sig Hutchinson

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More on NC Parks' decision re: Graylyn

Paul with Access Umstead requested information from NC Parks regarding the environmental assessments used in the recent decision about Graylyn (see the press release posted on our blog on 11/4/09 below). He received the following summary and recommendation prepared by Erik Nygard, the district superintendent. Again, we encourage you to read the entire document and do so carefully. It is rather long but we consider it revealing as it not fully consistent with the reasoning presented in the press release.

In our opinion, neither justification appears to be completely based on objective facts but on fear and speculation. NC Parks conveniently dismissed the results of their own web survey and totally ignored the desires of petitioners for restoration of safe parking access. Their current and future plans only leads to increased pedestrian/bike conflict with motor vehicles on existing roads within the park. We believe the park's recommendations to pave the existing road to the Sycamore day use area whether it is done now or any time in the future shows very little regard for the safety of the park users as it will only result in an increase in vehicular speed. We believe NC Parks should return to the table to consider other options with the intent of restoring safe and convenient parking access at Graylyn--as was under consideration until the Umstead PAC meeting of 11/14/07.


January 17, 2009


TO: Lewis Ledford, Director

THROUGH: Don Reuter, Assistant Director

FROM: Erik Nygard, Acting Chief of Operations

SUBJECT: Recommendation on Alternatives for Graylyn Drive Access at William B. Umstead State Park(WIUM)

The following is the recommendation made by Erik Nygard, North District(NODI) Superintendent and Acting Chief of Operations (CHOP). This recommendation is based upon the recommendations from WIUM Superintendent Scott Letchworth, and information collected from a division-sponsored survey conducted on-line and at the park level, General Management Plan recommendations and park management needs. This document is organized under the following sections: Background Information, General Management Plan, Survey, Superintendent’s Recommendations, and NODI/CHOP’s Recommendation, Proposed Division Recommendations and Attachments.

Background Information

Mission of North Carolina State Parks

The North Carolina State Parks System exists for the enjoyment, education, health and inspiration of all our citizens and visitors. The mission of the state parks system is to conserve and protect representative examples of the natural beauty, ecological features and recreational resources of statewide significance; to provide outdoor recreational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment; and to provide environmental education opportunities that promote stewardship of the state's natural heritage.

All decisions affecting management in WIUM are to be based on the principles of the mission of the state parks system. Decisions made on this issue will not please all stakeholders and must be made with a prime focus on how best to manage the park’s resources yet still serve the visitor.

WIUM was created as a federal project through the Works Progress Administration to reclaim sub-marginal and eroded farmland to form a public land holding. This recreation demonstration area was eventually to be transferred to the State of North Carolina to be managed as a state park. The process started in the 1930s when the park area was well outside the city limits of Raleigh. Over the period of more than 70 years, the city of Raleigh has expanded and surrounded the now, 5,579-acre park. The park is surrounded on all sides by high impact land use that affects the park daily. These include an international airport, two major highways, a rock quarry and multiple neighborhood developments.

Graylyn Drive enters the park area off of congested Ebenezer Church Road on the northeast side of the park. Access at this location has always been permitted to hikers and horseback riders and then in the 1980s to bicycle riders. Long before a gate was installed, a residence, well into now what is the park, was serviced by Graylyn Drive which at the time was a county vehicular road. When that home site was incorporated into the park, Graylyn Drive was closed to vehicular traffic, making the road an addition to the park trail system. Adjacent landowners in the community would often ride horses on Ebenezer Church Road and Graylyn Drive into the park for recreation. Ebenezer Church Road was an un-improved, gravel road until the mid-1980s.

By the late 1980s, the old road system within the park became a multi-use trail system, heavily used by horseback riders, hikers and bicycle riders. After a gate was installed, an informal parking area developed outside of the park along Graylyn Drive. This parking area was not managed by park staff as it was not on park property. Initially, parking at this location was not discouraged by Wake County or by WIUM. Eventually, vehicles parking at what was intended to be a neighborhood pedestrian entrance resulted in problems with traffic flow, litter and unauthorized, after-hours entry to the park. By 2007, decisions were made by NC DOT to prevent the public from parking along Graylyn Drive, giving the appearance the park did not want the public to access the park from this location. Access into the park by pedestrians and bicyclists has not been restricted by the division at this location. There has been a misconception that the park and division have restricted public use of this access.

In 2008 additional traffic counters were installed to collect information on numbers of park users entering the non-vehicular area entrances found at Graylyn Drive, Trenton Reedy and Creek Roads and West Gate on Reedy Creek Trail. Attendance in the park has shown an increase of 15 percent from 2007. As more development occurs around the park and greenways entering the park are enhanced these numbers should continue to increase. Parking in the Crabtree Section of the park has increased since closure of Graylyn Drive to parking. Often the visitor center parking area becomes congested during busy weekends, resulting in visitors having to by-pass stopping at the visitor center.

Stakeholders impacted by the following recommendations are: hikers and runners, bicycle riders, horseback riders, Graylyn Drive and Ebenezer Road neighborhood residents, and park staff.

Sensitive or potentially impacted areas within the study area included: a section of the Bike and Bridle Trail near Graylyn Gate, King Family Graveyard, King home site and white oak trees along the trail, Sycamore Group Camp, adjacent neighborhoods to the study area, Ebenezer Church and parking area.

General Management Plan

The 2007 WIUM General Management Plan (GMP) “working documents” identifies
a capital improvement project combining the day-use conversion at Sycamore, Bridle/Bicycle Trail Head. This project was identified by combining two projects identified in an earlier GMP. In January 1999, an evaluation team comprised of
Chief of Natural Resources & Regional Planning Carol Tingley, Facility Planner Fred Hagenberger, NODI Superintendent Susan Tillotson, WIUM Superintendent Martha Woods, Land Protection Program Manager Sue Regier and Community Planner Alan Eakes met to review and update the capital improvement project list. The objectives were to assess project need, status and scope: change project scopes where necessary; split and/or combine projects where feasible; consider additional projects; score projects; and review land acquisition needs. The plan indicates combining the following improvements into one project:

Bridle/Bicycle Trail Head: add six picnic sites, drinking water, access road and parking. Increase parking from 20 to 50 cars and trailer parking, replace trailhead latrine.

Convert Sycamore Mess Hall and West End Lodge into Community Buildings: convert Sycamore Mess Hall and the West End Lodge into Community buildings for group day use by reservation only, provide parking for 350 cars.

The GMP “working documents” recognize visitor and recreation management, trail access management, as a medium priority. It states management of unofficial parking and social trails at neighborhood access areas at Graylyn Drive and others need to be addressed. The GMP states that trail connections to existing greenway systems shall be encouraged.

Also noted in the 2007 documents were Project Evaluation Program (PEP) scores for Graylyn Drive Access improvements. The Park Advisory Committee (PAC) expressed that paving and parallel parking of the existing road with no additional parking or expansion in the area is desirable. In a meeting with the Department of Transportation (DOT), Assistant Traffic Engineer Frank Carpenter suggested, to Superintendent Woods that the road not be paved since it wasn’t an entrance, and the Division shouldn’t do anything to attract more people to the area.


A web survey was conducted in fall of 2008 to gather information on the public suggested recommendations for providing access and parking in the Graylyn Gate Area. Three Alternatives were presented to the public on ways to enhance or change the present use of Graylyn Drive Access. The survey and complete alternative descriptions are included as Attachment I. Simplifications of the three alternatives presented are as follows:

1. Alternative A - Essentially leave the existing access and facilities in place as is.

2. Alternative B – Improve access through the park to Bike and Bridle Trailhead from Highway 70 entrance.

3. Alternative C – Provide vehicular access through Graylyn Gate to the Bike and Bridle trailhead.

Results of the survey have been compiled on a disc labeled – WIUM Graylyn Drive Survey, 11-9-08. A copy of this disc and excel document, Attachment II, is provided with this memorandum for reference. A summary of the survey responses are available in a excel document on the disc. The spreadsheet indicates 249 responses were received. Alternative A received 37 favorable responses. Alternative B received 8 favorable responses. Alternative C was favored by 154 responses, the vast majority of responders.
However, in addition to the three alternatives, 50 responders, approximately 20%, choose some combination of the three alternatives or recommended something different altogether.

It is not surprising that Alternative C received the most responses, since the newly formed organization, Access Umstead, was formed after Graylyn Drive was paved and parking prohibited. It was the most vocal of the stakeholders involved. They included hikers, runners and bikers who have found the present Graylyn Drive to be the most convenient access to the trails regardless of the lack of managed parking conditions. The word convenience was noted in 45, approximately 29%, of the Alternative C responses.

Park Superintendent’s Recommendations

Superintendent Scott Letchworth’s seven recommendations are included as Attachment III document and as follows:

1. Request a stoplight at the entrance to the park on Highway 70. In the event a stoplight will not be possible, consider the alternative of a frontage road at the Highway 70 entrance connecting to the existing stop light at Umstead Corporation Drive and Highway 70.

2. Request a sidewalk down Ebenezer Church Road from Highway 70 to the park Graylyn Gate for people living in the area to be able to walk safely to the park.

3. Connect the multi-use trail surface to the Sycamore parking area.

4. Look at improvements to the Sycamore parking Area.

5. Grade and maintain the existing gravel road leading to the Sycamore parking area. Keep available the alternative of paving this road, but hold off now due to costs involved.

6. Use this opportunity to approach the City of Raleigh about their proposed greenway connection to the park on Ebenezer Church Road. Indicate the need for Raleigh to provide for parking in this location to prevent similar access issues from occurring there. This would also provide a location for parking without a management burden on the park.

NODI/Acting CHOP’s Recommendations

As Stated in the Survey Alternative B is the approach outlined in the existing General Management Plan. It is recommended the division follow the intent of this alternative with the following additions:

1. As written in the survey - widen and pave the existing road (from US 70 entrance) from its intersection near the Maple Hill Lodge to the parking area at the Sycamore day use area and improve the parking area. This would require one mile of new pavement, and the last 0.3 miles would be widened for two-way traffic. A section of road will be removed from the existing loop. Equestrian vehicle parking would be separated from other day use vehicle parking. A new, multi-use trail segment would connect the parking area to the existing trail system. The park will maintain the control of all parking within the park helping to reduce management issues such as late park users not following established hours, no additional entrances to operate and maintain and no new additional vehicular roads. This also prevents horse back riders and bicyclists from being required to use an alternate entrance which does not provide them access to the visitor center. Improvement of the trail and signage from the parking area to the Bike and Bridle Trail will reduce confusion of multiple trails and roads in the area. Construct the parking area large enough to handle the amount of traffic required. In addition to the Bike and Bridle Trail head this parking area should be large enough to accommodate the proposed Sycamore Camp Day Use improvements. The two projects could be phased in or separated again to reduce the need to fund both projects at the same time as has been identified in the last GMP.

2. Per Superintendent Letchworth’s recommendation – Move the Highway 70 entrance of the park via the incorporation of a frontage road to the existing stop light at Umstead Corporation Drive. This will improve the flow of traffic in and out of the park using the existing traffic signal therefore also reducing the potential for accidents on the existing entrance at Highway 70. Design the frontage road to accept horse trailers. Remove the existing entrance and crossing at Highway 70.

3 Work closely with the city of Raleigh, Wake County and NC DOT to ensure safe access is provided to neighborhoods along Graylyn Drive and Ebenezer Church Road by extending the bike trails and sidewalks out into the community. Encourage use of pedestrian and bicycle access to similar neighborhood entrances. Discourage placement of parking areas along borders of the park as a precedent will encourage other parking areas to be constructed due to political demand as opposed to management needs.

4. Since parking has been removed at Graylyn Drive, the 30-space Visitor Center Parking Area has been filling to capacity on a regular basis on weekends and other parking areas near the picnic areas have seen increased use. Open and resurface the old road bed below the office as a one way road with traffic flowing in a southern direction toward the parks interior, place diagonal parking spaces facing the visitor center. Place trail crosswalk to access the Sal’s Branch Trail and add speed bumps to slow traffic in the area. Angle the exit at 90 degrees to the main park road to assist in the site alignment for safety. Vehicles would turn left to pass the office to exit the park toward highway 70. This area could handle up to one hundred spaces depending on the size of the lot constructed in this already disturbed location. Many bicyclists would use this area as they now use the visitor center parking area.

5. Raise the priority of Visitor and Recreation Management, Access Trail Management to high from medium priority in the general management plan. This has been overlooked for a number of years until parking was removed at several locations out of the park. Park staff needs to recognize more quickly the potential impacts other land use managers’ decisions made adjacent to the park affect the management and operation of the park.

6. Review the need for capital improvement of Graylyn Drive Parking Improvements project in park GMP.

Proposed Division Recommendations

Due to the high demands on the state’s budget, this is a difficult time to request funding for a parking improvement project located within a state park. However, there are improvements the Division of Parks and Recreation can complete at a relative minor cost to enrich the park visitor’s experience of these facilities.

These include in the short term the following:

1) Improve signage leading visitors to the Bike and Bridle Trail/Sycamore parking area – Improving the signs will encourage and reduce apprehension of the use of the bike and bridle trail facilities. Signs will be improved from the Highway 70 entrance to the parking area.
2) Improve signage within the parking area – Separate parking for bicycles and horse trailers. This will reduce conflicts between the two user groups and provide details specific to each user group.
3) Improve trail access and signs from the parking area to the Bike and Bridle Trail – Construct a new section of trail to access the popular trail detached from the existing vehicular road. This will provide the trail user a positive experience by immediately getting the user onto a dedicated trail surface as opposed to sharing the present road with vehicles.
4) Continue early operational hours at the Crabtree Creek entrance – Park Staff will continue providing access to the Crabtree Creek, Highway 70 entrance, starting at 7:00 a.m. every morning.
5) Increase staff communications with the trail users by increasing ranger presence on foot and bike patrol in the area. This will offer the public a vehicle to express concerns and provide the park an opportunity to educate users on planning and operational decisions.
6) Encourage existing access through Graylyn Drive gate during park operational hours for bicycles and pedestrians.

Contingent on future funding, the Division of Parks and Recreation may do the following:

1) As written per NODI/Acting CHOP’s recommendation, number 1, page 5, widen and pave the existing road (from US 70 entrance) from its intersection near the Maple Hill Lodge to the parking area at the Sycamore day use area and improve the parking area.
2) As written in NODI/Acting CHOP’s recommendation, number 4, page 6, improve parking at the park visitor center. This will provide bicyclists an alternative to parking at the Bike and Bridle Trail/Sycamore parking area. It is quickly accessed from the Highway 70 entrance and will provide convenience to those wanting to park and ride bicycles.

As recognized multiple agencies and stakeholders have an interest in providing access to trails at WIUM. The Division will ask the following agencies to assist in the planning process for access issues generated from outside the park:

1) Work closely with the city of Raleigh, city of Cary and Wake County on future trail access connections to insure the appropriate municipality or entities provide adequate parking and access to park trail connections.
2) Work closely with NCDOT to acquire funding for bicycle/pedestrian access where the division identifies access needs through the appropriate planning process.

Following these recommendations prevents an additional vehicular entrance to the park off a smaller secondary road, does not require additional staff to operate, reduces new road construction on reclaimed property, protects existing, historical and cultural interests and reduces impact on park neighbors. It does provide safe pedestrian and bicycle access for the local community and additional organized parking for vehicles entering the park. Identified improvements to the road will bring those entering from Highway 70 a safe, relatively quick means of accessing the park to one of many interior parking lots that can be appropriately managed by staff. All of these recommendations will need to be incorporated into the WIUM GMP process. An additional Attachment IV is The Umstead Coalition public comments.

As time continues to pass William B. Umstead State Park will continue to face external pressures unforeseen. The park was formed from worn and eroded farmland the majority of which had little state wide significance at the time. The park would likely not meet our stated mission had it been formed today. However, the park has become increasingly significant and important as a recreational resource of statewide significance; providing outdoor recreational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment within a metropolitan area; and providing environmental education opportunities that promote stewardship of the state's natural heritage. Let us not forget the responsibility the Division of Parks and Recreation has to manage these increasingly significant resources in a manner that promotes stewardship for this and future generations.

Please advise if there are questions or if further information is needed. Thank you for your assistance in this.


Attachment I: Survey without planning area maps
Attachment II: Copy of Survey Results
Attachment III: Superintendent Scott Letchworth’s Recommendation
Attachment IV: The Umstead Coalition Public Comments

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NC Parks' Decision on Graylyn

We received notice from Charlie Peek, NC Parks' Public Information Officer, and Jean Spooner, Umstead Coalition, regarding NC Parks' decision on Graylyn. It can be found at or you can read it below.

William B. Umstead State Park to Improve Sycamore Creek Trail Access
EDITORS: (View / download Map of proposed improvements.)
RALEIGH -- William B. Umstead State Park will expand and improve access to the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead and multi-use trails in accordance with its general management plan and will explore ways to improve access to the park’s U.S. 70 entrance, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The state parks system dropped consideration of a third vehicle park entrance and parking area in the Graylyn Drive/Ebenezer Church Road area. That alternative had been proposed in response to concerns from park users about restrictions on parking near the Graylyn Drive pedestrian entrance.
The park maintains vehicle entrances and primary parking areas off U.S. 70 and at Harrison Avenue near Interstate 40.
“Our overriding philosophy must be to minimize the development footprint at Umstead as one way to protect the wild and natural landscape of this state park,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the division.
State parks system planners determined that a third park entrance for vehicles would raise security issues, increase traffic in adjacent neighborhoods, invite unauthorized, after-hours entry into the park and threaten natural areas with pressure to enlarge the entrance in the future.
In recent years, demand for access to multi-use trails on the park’s eastern side has increased dramatically. The park will widen and improve an existing road to the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead from the U.S. 70 entrance. Equestrian and day-use parking at the trailhead will be separated and enlarged, and a new multi-use trail segment will connect the parking areas to the existing trails system.
The park’s general management plan calls for the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead to eventually become an expanded day-use area.
Late in 2008, the park began opening the U.S. 70 entrance one hour earlier at 7 a.m. to provide better trail access and has begun design of an expanded parking area at the visitor center. To address general access issues, park administrators will explore the possibility of a stoplight at the U.S. 70 entrance or a new access road from an existing stoplight, and will request a sidewalk be installed on Ebenezer Church Road for safer pedestrian access. The park will also work closely with the city of Raleigh to improve greenway connections to the park.
Public comment on three proposed access alternatives was invited in 2008, and 249 responses were useful in determining park visitor priorities. An alternative proposing a parking area on or near Graylyn Drive proved to be the most controversial, receiving both the greatest number of positive comments and the greatest number of objections. The other alternatives were to follow the recommendations of the general management plan and to leave existing access and facilities in place.