Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Park could affect airport grants

FAA guidelines require space near runways for troubled planes

Andy Otto fuels a plane at the Lawrence Municipal Airport. A developer group's proposal for a business park near the airport is raising concerns that it could affect funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, which requires open space near runways.

Andy Otto fuels a plane at the Lawrence Municipal Airport. A developer group's proposal for a business park near the airport is raising concerns that it could affect funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, which requires open space near runways.

June 26, 2007


Improvements to the Lawrence Municipal Airport

Nelson Krueger, a Lawrence-based professional pilot, discusses the improvements that have been made to the Lawrence Municipal Airport thanks to funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Concerns are rising in the city's aviation community that a proposed 900-acre business park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport could hinder the city's ability to attract millions in federal aviation grants.

"We could leave $20 million to $30 million on the table if we don't do this right," said Nelson Krueger, a Lawrence resident and professional pilot who has used the Lawrence airport for the last 40 years.

Krueger and others are concerned that the new business park - designed to attract what developers hope will be 10,000 jobs over a 25-year period - could encroach on areas the Federal Aviation Administration believes must be development-free in case an aircraft has problems during takeoff or landing.

But Anthony Santaularia - a member of the Lawrence-based development group that has laid out a 25-year plan to develop the areas south, east and west of the airport - said he wants to comply with FAA recommendations.

"We're not going to put the airport in any jeopardy at all," Santaularia said. "We think the airport is a great asset. We're dedicated to work with the FAA and to work with the city to improve the airport."

Rick Bryant, chairman of the city's Aviation Advisory Board, said his group is particularly watching development plans for about 12 acres of farmland northeast of a photography studio at U.S. Highway 24-40 and North Seventh Street.

That property is at the end of one of the airport's major runways. The FAA considers it an important open space to allow troubled aircraft to land or take off. The property is included in a 140-acre annexation request that developers submitted to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department.

Santaularia said although a previous plan once showed buildings in that area, the project has been revised to keep that area free of development - other than to allow two streets and some limited parking.

Bryant said the change in plans was welcome - both he and Krueger say they support the general idea of a business park near the airport - but he wants to do more checking with the FAA to determine whether the streets and parking would be an issue.

"I know from a pure aviation standpoint, we would prefer to see nothing in that area so there is no gray area for the FAA to have to interpret," Bryant said.

Attempts to reach the FAA regulator who is working with the Lawrence airport were unsuccessful.

The FAA cannot stop the city from allowing development in the area, but the FAA can refuse to fund future aviation grants to the city.

That, Bryant said, would be a major loss to the airport. In the last eight years, the city has received about $7 million in FAA grants to extend runways that allow larger business jets to use the airport. The funding also has been used to add safety equipment and instrumentation at the airport.

Bryant said FAA grants figure prominently in expansion plans at the airport. He said in the next five years, airport leaders would like to build a 400-foot runway extension that would allow for small commuter and charter jets to use the airport.

Airport leaders have no plans to create a regional commuter service, Bryant said, but instead want to be able to accommodate larger charter planes - especially for Big 12 athletic teams - that would like to fly directly to Lawrence.


Jeff Goodrick 10 years, 12 months ago

Looks like someone wasn't thinking. That land was under 10 feet of water in 1951. Just look at the water level on the Tepee.

Martin_D_15 10 years, 12 months ago

may walmart can build out here ! ! !

then we can get all of the white trash from Jackson and Leavenworth Counties ! ! !

what a wonderful city!!!

Kat Christian 10 years, 12 months ago

This is this same thing as building a housing complex right next to a dog kennel that had been there for 25 years+ and then all of a sudden the neighbors complain about the kennel and they have to close down. Building a business park so close to the airport - what is this saying folks? Mmmmmmmmm? Makes you wonder who's behind this.

compmd 10 years, 12 months ago

sunshine, the airport can't be shut down. If it were, the city would have to pay back the entirety of the grants (millions of dollars) to the FAA. Also, I think the university would have something to say about it, because I believe (don't quote me) that it was originally university land that was given to the city.

reality_check: murphy's law. if someone can do something stupid enough to put the grants into jeopardy, they will. especially if they are developers and do not necessarily have a vested interest in general aviation.

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 12 months ago

The shorter runway (19L) can't be lengthened on either end because of obstructions to the instrument glide path. The long runway is out of room on the east end, so it can only be extended west. There's plans to put a new taxiway on the east side of 19L.

I would think someone like Debbie Van Sonn would be the definative source of info regarding what the plans for airport expansion are.

Eric Beightel 10 years, 12 months ago

While I agree with previous posters that there needs to be a thorough environmental analysis done on this proposed project, NEPA (the law that would require a full blown Environmental Impact Statement) may not even be triggered if there are no federal dollars or federal approvals needed for the project - which looks to be the case. Neither KS, nor Douglas County have any regulations requiring the complete environmental impact assessment that NEPA does.

The whole area is a floodplain. The increase in impervious surface as a result of this development could be a real problem when the 10 and 20 year rain events come rolling through - not to mention the 50 yr events like we had in 93. I remember that time well as I lived just north of the airport and rode a dirtbike through water that was 4' deep to get into town. Good times. If you cover up the land that allows the water to infiltrate and then redirect it elsewhere...where does it go? What about the water quality of the receiving stream?

While the prospect of new jobs may get everyone excited, it may also cause them to overlook some rather significant pitfalls of this project. Proceed with caution and hope like hell they need a Corps permit so NEPA is triggered.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 12 months ago

It's also worth noting that flood control dams (Perry, Clinton, Tuttle Creek, etc.) are nearing their designed service life, and are silting in a rate faster than anticipated. Unless literally hundreds of $millions are spent on them, and the levee systems, in the next 20-30 years, the flooding of the past will return, possibly exacerbated by weather that becomes more extreme because of global warming.

BTW, exactly why does Lawrence "need" an airport, anyway?

bearb 10 years, 12 months ago

In the interest of accurate discussion, let me respond to hipper_than_hip comments: Our runway designations are 1/19 and 15/33. We do not have a left and right runway on each heading (19L). Runway 1/19 will remain its current length due to physical property constraints at both ends that prohibit lengthing in accord with FAA current runway development practices. We do not have an instrument landing system on 1/19. In 2006, we did complete a new taxiway for 1/19 that runs on the east side of the runway and flows into our main apron for safer traffic patterns.

Our primary runway 15/33 is a north/south alignment and we have room to add an additional 400 feet to the south if the funding and market demands ever merge. Based on current FAA funding patterns, it is a long shot to see that extension built.

Compnd is correct that the city would be on the financial hook to the FAA for potential repayment of grants if rules were violated. That's a rare instance, but we plan to not be placed in that position.

With regards to flooding, while the area remains in a floodplain, the 1993 floods had no impact on the safety or operation of the Lawrence Municipal Airport thanks to the levee system in place on the river today.

The Lawrence Municipal Airport is recognized as an outstanding general aviation airport in this region and nationally. We encourage interested individuals to attend our public board meetings at the airport. The meeting schedule and agenda is always available through the City Manager's office.

And yes, the Aviation Advisory Board thinks Debbie Van Saun does a great job as airport manager to support aviation in Lawrence, where the airport contributes $9 million annually to the local economy, according to a KDOT survey of several years ago. We believe its much higher now due to the enhancements at the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Rick Bryant, chair Aviation Advisory Board Lawrence Municipal Airport

ohjayhawk 10 years, 12 months ago

Bozo brings up a huge point about the life span of flood control dams. We in SE Ohio have been dealing with this issue for several years now. There are a couple dams listed as needing "urgent" care, and all are needing major renovations.

TomKat 10 years, 12 months ago

Lets add to the already abandoned buildings and low income housing. What a joke. Senator, with his own agenda to sell off so that his kids can build multimillion homes elsewhere. This senator doesn't even live in Douglas county anymore. Is his best intrest in the city, or sell beause they have already ruined the topsoil for their main income. Have you drove north lawrence after a rain? Major runoff and roads half blocked. Let's fix what we already have and fill the empty buildings that are standing. Isn't this a green community????

Eric Beightel 10 years, 12 months ago

Rick -

Thank you for your response. While the water in the 93 floods was under the elevation of the runways and the general operations area of the airport - it wasn't by much. The problem comes when 900 acres of impervious surface plops down right around the airport. I would assume that the curb & gutter would capture most flows but then where does it go? While it may not impact the airport directly, it's going somewhere and somebody's getting a boatload of water dumped nearby...

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 12 months ago

Thanks for correcting my post Rick. What's the status of moving the hangers and tenants from the west side of 1/19?

bearb 10 years, 12 months ago

Hip - our plan is to keep status quo on west side as we see potential for in-fill development on that side; but we need some maintanence funding for surface repair first on the west side. Presently we have a waiting list of more than 2 dozen aircraft owners wishing to locate at the airport so we're on the city's project list for to construct additional T-Hangars, which generate revenue, sales and property tax for the city.

logrithmic - space and time prevent me from sharing with you the importance of a strong municipal airport. It does not benefit a few individuals but is a vital economic engine for the city, county and region. I'm not hard to reach so would welcome the opportunity to educate you on the benefits if you're open-minded enough to visit. Another great learning opportunity is to join us during an advisory board meeting and learn from our volunteer board about the impact of the airport. Meeting times and agendas are always available through the City Manager's office. In the post 9-11 aviation era, our community airport has become an greater asset than ever before.

Rick Bryant, chair Aviation Advisory Board

kmat 10 years, 12 months ago

max1 - being a n. lawrence resident, let me correct you. The river would have still had to have risen a lot in '93 to have spilled over the levee. It would have flooded into east lawrence and worse around Birchum Park before going over the levee. I was there watching it every day. It came close to breaching over the landing at the Riverfront mall and almost flooded that area (they did have to close the landing for a while). There were no problems on the levee side. If you don't believe me, go see the high water mark sign for yourself to see how far it still had to go to breach the levee. The south side of the river is much lower than the levee side, hence why it almost flooded over into e. Lawrence.

tomkat - you know nothing of the neighborhoods of n. lawrence. Low income housing????? Give me a break. n. lawrence is a great neighboorhood and there are tons of new (not cheap) housing going up every day and the majority of older homes have been restored. The area looks great and the housing values have risen faster there than in most other parts of town. Those of us that bought houses years ago have made a lot of money because of how fast the market has gone up in that area. And there's no run off problems any where near my house and only on a rare occasion have roads been closed because of flooding. If you want to see that, go to areas in e. lawrence and around 19th and Ousdahl.

I just love it when people that don't even live in an area think they're the experts.

TomKat 10 years, 12 months ago

Rick, The Lawrence airport has been nothing but a great asset to Lawrence. The green space, ie farmland around the airport is a plus for the area, what we need to be concerned about is the buildings around lawrence that are not filled and adding more retail, industry that we can't fulfill to the area. Really, we can't keep North Lawrence going why add to it????

TomKat 10 years, 12 months ago

kmat, Really, all of the new homes being built have basements and above the $150,000 mark in north lawrence??? I am in North Lawrence, so I do know. There are some houses that are improvements to the city, but really. Is the square footage, schools and conveniences that most average americans want in north lawrence??? We can't keep a grocery store or even have one of the top grade schools in Lawrence.

Don't be offended, look at the real issue can we handle more industry???

pelliott 10 years, 12 months ago

But if they replace the farmland with industry where will we get the corn to run the suv?

nekansan 10 years, 12 months ago

Drive by that airport on any KU game day or on the weekend of a race at Kansas Speedway. It brings a tremendous amount of additional revenue to the city of Lawrence through services to transient aircraft and crews. In addition, there are numerous businesses that provide maintenance and repair services to aircraft owners and pilots. The airport also indirectly drives revenues from hotel sales and tourism dollars as these visitors travel through Lawrence.

bearb 10 years, 12 months ago

logrithmic - a fact correction. The Lawrence Municipal Airport does not have an air traffic control tower. Those exist in Kansas City. Our facility is an uncontrolled airport outside of the Kansas City controlled airspace.

It is unfortunate you're anti-aviation, despite accepting the free aircraft ride for work, as our facility is an important component of the business, educational and recreational segments of the community. It is a community airport, and we would welcome the opportunity visit with you in person at a board meeting to offer a different perspective from your harsh comments.

Rick Bryant, chair Aviation Advisory Board

bearb 10 years, 12 months ago

Reality_Check - how come you know so much about the airport? You're a little off on the direct costs. You sound like an aircraft owner or former board member.

Rick Bryant

Bud Stagg 10 years, 12 months ago

The Anti-growth people amaze me. While there are concerns with this project, anything that increases the commercial tax base is welcome in my opinion. An article in the paper says that we pay only 31% of property taxes with our commercial property compared to 37% as an average in Kansas towns. That means homeowners have to make up the difference.

More businesses bring more jobs, more taxepayers, more property taxes, more sales taxes, etc. This is a lot more income that the cost to provide some roads and sewers.

We have lost out on some huge businesses because our "existing" space sucks. In my experience, People who move ahead solve problems, people who hold back are part of the problem.

compmd 10 years, 12 months ago


"KU students learn to fly there." There are all sorts of airports where students can learn to fly. Vinland has a small airport that advertises flight lessons. They don't need a multi-runway airport in North Lawrence. What a load:..

Hetrick has great planes for flight instruction. A 172 with a G1000 is pretty awesome, I'm not gonna lie. And coincidentally, the Lawrence airport is in the same city that most KU students reside in. How convenient!

"KU aerospace engineering program use facilities there." What? More subsidies for KU? It seems that they can build their facilities anywhere. Why not West Campus???

One runway at KLWC is ILS, the other is not. They are also different surfaces I believe (15/33 being asphalt, and 1/19 concrete). Why should MCI have multiple runways of different types?

By the way, the airport property was owned by KU until 1977. The Aerospace Engineering department has aircraft manufacturing and flight test facilities there. It would be somewhat difficult to perform flight tests in a Cessna 172 or 182 without an airport, so West Campus is out of the picture. Would you like to rethink your stance on KU's operations there now that you are informed?

Don't forget all the sales of Jet-A that are made every time there is a NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway. The drivers and their crews fly in to Lawrence.

I'm not going to get into the costs of GA flight, but I'm no "fat cat" although I did consider purchasing a piston-single last year with two friends. Some aircraft in that class have better fuel economy than an SUV.

You have made it crystal clear that you know nothing about general aviation or the aviation infrastructure in this country.

Rick, I am a denizen of the airport, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple others of us on this board. It would be funny if Reality_Check and I actually knew each other.

bearb 10 years, 12 months ago

R_C - thanks for the note. The disadvantage of this blog system is the lack of personal contact and identity during the discussion. Now that you know who I am, I hope you will stop me at the airport sometime to say hi and visit. Thanks for your continued support of our community airport and we need all the 'cats' to make it work.

Rick Bryant, chair Aviation Advisory Board

compmd 10 years, 12 months ago

none2, Forbes can be quite a busy airport. The 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard is based there. KC-135 tankers fly in and out of Forbes, and if you're lucky you'll see some other neat aircraft. I got buzzed by a T-38 last time I was there.

Remember, Kansas is the aviation capital of the world. There's lots and lots of every kind of aircraft imaginable in this state.

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