Basehor — More than 500 Leavenworth County residents packed into the Basehor-Linwood High School gymnasium Monday evening to voice opposition a proposed airport in the Basehor area.
In 1990, the city of Leavenworth and Leavenworth County received a $70,000 federal grant through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program to fund most of a feasibility study of constructing an airport to serve Leavenworth County. The city and county will split the additional $8,000 cost of the study.
Bucher, Willis & Ratliff, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm, looked at 13 sites in Leavenworth County and targeted two sites just north of Basehor as potential locations for the new airport.
ONE OF the two targeted sites Site Eight sits between Donahoo Road and Leavenworth County Road 8, west of 155th Street. The other site, identified as Site Nine, is located between Donahoo Road and Leavenworth County Road 8, east of 147th Street and west of U.S. Highway 73.
John Sawka, president of VOLT (Voice of Leavenworth Taxpayers), told the crowd that he had researched the issue and uncovered a number of facts that convinced him the project was a waste of taxpayers' money.
In 1985, Wyandotte County conducted an airport feasibility study on the same property included in Site Eight, he said, adding that officials realized the airport wasn't needed and dropped the study. "Leavenworth could have just looked at this," said Sawka, holding up the 1985 report. "Why are they spending tax dollars doing it all over again?"
JOHN BAILEY, a Linwood resident, presented a map of the Leavenworth-Kansas City area and used red cellophane circles with a scale radius of 25 miles to demonstrate the proximity of several airports, including the Lawrence airport and Kansas City International.
"You can hardly see the map through the overlays," Bailey said. "Tell me where else you could put an airport in Leavenworth County that would give us more coverage than this?"
If the county insists the need for a reliever airport exists, Sawka said, then officials should work with the U.S. Army to convert underused Sherman Field at Fort Leavenworth into a public airport. The airfield wasn't included in the site selection study, he said.
Mark Pentz, Leavenworth city manager, told the crowd that a public hearing would be held in February to discuss the airport proposal.
"NOTHING IS set in concrete," he said. "Unfortunately, some people have that impression. It is a planning study and there is much to be done."
During a phone interview this morning, Pentz said the city and county will submit the study results to the Federal Aviation Administration, which would have to grant approval before the project could continue.