Archive for Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Airport sewer moves ahead

The city made a preliminary agreement Tuesday to move forward with a $1.9 million project to extend the sewer system to the Lawrence Municipal Airport. City leaders believe the project would help attract more businesses to the area.

January 20, 2010

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City commissioners Tuesday agreed to move ahead on a $1.9 million plan to improve the Lawrence Municipal Airport, but they also learned that their efforts to land a major tenant there will face stiff competition.

At their weekly meeting, commissioners unanimously agreed to begin engineering work on a project to extend city sewer service to the airport. The project is expected to cost about $1.1 million upfront, and then could cost another $800,000 once the airport attracts a sizable tenant.

Commissioners have been hoping that Lawrence-based DAR Corp. would be that tenant. DAR confirmed in March it was considering the Lawrence airport as the site for a new engineering and production facility for prototype aircraft that would be sold in China.

On Tuesday, DAR President Willem Anemaat said Lawrence was still in the running for the project, but that he also was giving heavy consideration to a proposal to locate the facility at the Salina Municipal Airport.

“If this Chinese deal happens, the Salina site is a very serious contender,” Anemaat said.

The stakes for Lawrence are high. The DAR project is expected to employ up to 65 engineers, mechanics and other technical positions in its first five years, Anemaat said. The average salary would be near $80,000 per year. Currently, DAR employs about 12 people in Lawrence. Anemaat hopes to wrap up negotiations with a Chinese company — and, by extension, the Chinese government — in the next couple of months.

The Salina airport, he said, is receiving strong consideration in part because it is significantly larger than Lawrence’s, but also because it may be easier to attract aircraft mechanics and production workers to the site. Kansas State University operates an aircraft production training program at the airport.

Lawrence city commissioners said they were still hopeful DAR would land in Lawrence, but said improving infrastructure at the airport was a good investment anyway.

“Aerospace is a big part of the state of Kansas,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there.”

Commissioners already have approved $600,000 worth of construction to extend a city water line to the airport. Work has begun on that project, which is expected to be completed in March.

Comments

cowboy 5 years, 5 months ago

Oh well , lets spend the money anyway

leedavid 5 years, 5 months ago

The City of Lawrence has 1.9 million extra dollars in the budget to risk on a project we may or not get? WOW! Who knew?

Darn sure better not hear about any budget shortages then. Then there is this gem:

“Aerospace is a big part of the state of Kansas,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there.”

Rob this is 2010 not the 1980's. Aerospace in Kansas has been on the decline for over a decade. A quick look at Wichita is all the proof you need. Then look at the state financial reports at dollars lost from decline in the Aerospace industry.

cowboy 5 years, 5 months ago

It would appear that the city's eco devo program consists of getting emails from nigerian scammers.

John Hamm 5 years, 5 months ago

"but that he also was giving heavy consideration to a proposal to locate the facility at the Salina Municipal Airport. " English translation? "We're going to Salina but the developers pleaded with us to not admit that yet........" This current batch of "commissioners" MUST go - soon! And as an aside stop worrying about $80K a year jobs. Get jobs in town for people who'll live and spend their earnings here!

Psalms20 5 years, 5 months ago

It's a step in the right direction, if we miss this opportunity we will be ready for the next. Let's get in the game and stop watching from the bleachers, to learn and get better you have to get banged up! knocked down, or said no to.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 5 months ago

leedavid, yes, they do have $1.9mil in the budget to take that kind of risk. it's not as if they build the sewer line, then don't get this business, the sewer line is wasted (no pun intended). It will still be there. the infrastructure will be seen as an improved site for attracting new business to Lawrence. So even if DAR bails, perhaps one or more other companies will come along.
This improvement is necessary to bringing industry to Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

" if we miss this opportunity we will be ready for the next."

What is that opportunity, and when will it be?

50YearResident 5 years, 5 months ago

Think it this way. After they build this sewer line for $1.9 million they can extend the railroad track for a couple million from the Newly purchased Amtrack Depot to the airport so people can commute from rail to air. Now isn't that looking into the future?

50YearResident 5 years, 5 months ago

Think it this way. After they build this sewer line for $1.9 million they can extend the railroad track for a couple million more. from the Newly purchased Amtrack Depot to the airport so people can commute from rail to air. Now isn't that looking into the future?

bliddel 5 years, 5 months ago

If we build it, they will come. Many have already tried to come in the past. (Cessna comes readily to mind). They haven't come, not from a lack of interest, but from a lack of sewer. Several have said exactly that!

I know (from personal experience) how bad it really is when you work someplace with no sanitary facilities. Trust me, I'll never do that again!

The economy is in a mess - yes. There is a risk - yes. Everything in life has risk. The economy can't stay depressed forever, and those who are prepared for economic recovery will be well positioned to reap the benefits.

Bud Stagg 5 years, 5 months ago

I think this guy mentions Salina as a negotiating tactic, a smart one. Let's see if Lawrence can step up to the plate and sweeten the pot. Bet they won't.

Danimal 5 years, 5 months ago

Good point JOEHAWK, unfortunately since Salina is sitting on one of the longest runways in the continental US, and has an established aerospace program as KSU-Salina, there's no way Lawrence could actually compete.

Just when you thought the Lawrence city commission couldn't get any crazier, they set the bar at a whole new level.

BorderRat 5 years, 5 months ago

Could this be more money down the drain?

compmd 5 years, 5 months ago

Just to clarify, KSU-Salina does not have an aerospace program. They have a pilot training program and a mechanic training program at Salina. KU on the other hand, has a full aerospace engineering program. Back in the day, KU's aerospace program had much more out at the airport. What kind of production level is DAR expecting? They will probably need more skilled workers than A&P mechanics, not to mention a DER, avionics mechanics, and experienced pilots, not those fresh out of school even with instrument and commercial ratings.

The runway at KSLN isn't in very good shape for its entire length. I know, I've flown in there. KLWC's runways are smaller, but in better condition. Also, there isn't that much free airspace around KSLN. There are MOAs directly northeast, north, northwest, and southwest of the airport. There's also restricted airspace within KSLN's airspace. None of these problems exist for KLWC.

Now we've been reading about DAR's plans to build Chinese aircraft for quite some time. Is it going to happen, or will there be indefinite deal-making? I really want there to be an aircraft company here in Lawrence, but I don't buy Anemaat's claim of $80,000 salaries for one second, except for the DER. The city needs to get some commitment from DAR.

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