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Longtime airport leader leaving post

Board chair resigns after taking up consulting work

May 7, 2009

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Now departing Gate 1 of the Lawrence Municipal Airport: Rick Bryant.

Bryant, who has been the chair of the city’s Aviation Advisory Board for the past 11 years, resigned from his position at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Bryant said the resignation was necessary because he’s taken a new job as a consultant with the Airport Development Group, a Denver-based firm that has done planning work for the Lawrence Municipal Airport for years. The new job likely would create some conflicts of interest in the future.

“It is kind of like leaving an old friend after 11 years. I still will be involved, but it will be as a consultant, and nobody listens to consultants,” Bryant said with a laugh.

Bryant will remain in Lawrence.

Bryant, city leaders said, played a particularly active role in spearheading projects ranging from runway improvements to building new hangar space at the airport.

“Rick was always available and always pushing for the airport to have the visibility that it deserves,” said Chuck Soules, who oversees airport operations as the city’s director of public works. “I don’t know that we’ll find someone to spend the amount of time that Rick spent with it, but the good thing is he’ll still be around.”

Bryant said he believes the airport — which will celebrate its 80th birthday at an event May 16 — is on the edge of some major breakthroughs.

The city is studying how to extend water and sewer service to the airport to accommodate interest from a Lawrence-based company that wants to build a facility to construct prototype aircraft at the airport.

“We foresee a big building boom out there,” Bryant said of the potential for new development on the airport grounds.

Usage of the airport also is up. Bryant said approximately 50 people are on a waiting list for hangar space at the airport.

Bryant said he’s hopeful that the city will be able to finance a hangar construction project at the airport once the economy improves.

Comments

compmd 5 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if I could get on the advisory board.

mdfraz 5 years, 7 months ago

Did I hear something a while back about the city receiving money to expand/extend the runways? Is that still the case, or is it on hold due to the current state of the economy?

d_prowess 5 years, 7 months ago

How hard is it to finance a construction project that already has 50 people waiting to pay for its use? Seems odd that there would be a delay on something like that.

bearb 5 years, 7 months ago

The challenges we face in this construction project is balancing the acceptable market rates that tenants will pay rent on a hangar unit with covering the necessary construction and financing costs over the life of the project to avoid any city subsidy. All rental revenue on the current hangars cover our expenses without city subsidy.

We're constantly working to find the right balance so we can attract these tenants to our community airport. More than half of these prospects live outside of Douglas County, so this means new dollars to the community and acknowledgment that we have a great airport.

Thanks for your interest and support.

Rick Bryant, chair Aviation Advisory Board

bliddel 5 years, 7 months ago

I have to say that in the 11 years I have followed the aviation advisory board as an interested citizen, that Rick is perhaps the hardest working, down to earth, humble, yet visionary leader I have ever had the pleasure to have known on a first name basis. I'm happy for Rick that he has found success not only in his time with our advisory board, but also now with ADG.

I am also fearfully aware of the gaping void his departure leaves. It is doubtful that anyone can fill his shoes (or as he said, that anyone would want to). The time for citizens to sit back and watch Rick do almost all the work has passed. Now we must step up to the plate and apply whatever we have been able to learn from the master.

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