Archive for Friday, November 3, 2017

Airport renovations on the ballot next week in Kansas City, Mo.

November 3, 2017

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— A nearly $1 billion remodel of Kansas City International Airport will either provide an important boost to the city’s economy, air service and national reputation, or it will be colossal waste of money designed to line the pockets of airlines and contractors while making air travel less convenient.

Those are the arguments swirling ahead a citywide vote Tuesday in a contentious, years-long fight in Kansas City, Mo., about whether to replace the 45-year-old airport’s three horseshoe-shaped terminals with a single terminal.

City leaders say the project will be funded by user fees and the airlines, and no tax dollars will be required. Opponents scoff at the claim, saying taxpayers will eventually foot at least part of the bill and note that the city still doesn’t have any final plans or signed contracts with the chosen developer, Maryland-based Edgemoor.

The opposition, led by a grassroots group called Citizens for Responsible Government, argue the city-owned airport could be modernized at a much lower cost. Mayor Sly James and other supporters say revitalizing the airport is key to the city’s economy and will improve security.

“Your airport is everything if a city wants to grow,” said Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Airports Council International-North America, an organization that advocates on issues that affect airports.

“It attracts businesses, offers employment to locals. It builds up the tax base, the employee base. If your airport is a first-class airport, that is a good thing for that part of Missouri. Without it, it’s going to be a challenge to compete,” Burke said.

The airport handled 5.3 million passenger boardings in 2016, ranking it the 39th busiest airport in the U.S. But it currently offers few restaurants, retail shops or bathrooms, with small waiting areas near the gates and few amenities, such as charging stations.

Those things matter to travelers, said Jolie Justus, a member of the City Council and chairwoman of Kansas City’s airport committee. She said companies and convention organizers have declined to come to the city because they say the airport’s layout is too congested, doesn’t offer convenient flights and offers few services.

“Our airport has served us well for 45 years, but it really is not meeting the needs the city has, not only as a front door but also our needs to provide an airport configuration to expand services and grow as a city,” Justus said.

Those arguments don’t persuade opponents, who say the existing terminals could be improved for millions of dollars less while maintaining the current airport’s convenience and offering amenities that modern travelers require. The fight has also been divided between local passengers who use the airport occasionally and those who travel extensively.

Dan Coffey, treasurer of Citizens for Responsible Government, said Tuesday’s vote is a way for the city to get around a 2014 ordinance his group pushed that prohibits the city from demolishing or starting a major renovation project at any airport owned by the city.

The proposal on the ballot also would give almost complete control of the airport to airlines, with little or no input from city officials or citizens, Coffey said.

“The ballot language only says, ‘Give us permission to destroy the terminals we have now, and then just trust us that we’ll build something you like,’” he said. “They’ve spent $2 million to convince people we need this, and that seems like a bad signal to me. We are just asking people to consider our arguments, get educated and use your best judgment.”

Polls commissioned by the opposing camps indicate the vote will be close. Justus, the city councilwoman, said it may come down to turnout for an election on a day with few other issues to draw out voters.

“I’m focused on it passing,” Justus said. “But if it doesn’t, we’ll do what we always do, get up the next day, roll up our sleeves and figure out what we can do to get a modern, safe airport to move us into the future.”

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 month ago

The airline industry receives billions in federal subsidies. Local subsidies come in the form of large expenditures on airports so the airline industry is receiving a lot of free lunches.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

Richard Heckler 1 month ago

A billion dollar airport is in sight NOT a better airport! Think of it that way. I don't care where the money might come from why should taxpayers endorse reckless spending of any sort. There is still debt from a previous remodel.

Special interest supporters such as the Mayor and associates decided a million tax dollars should be spent selling this boondoggle to the public. That is wasted use of tax dollars. This has not set well with some taxpayers. Will the city manager resign over this? Who knows but the talk has been in the news.

KCMO METRO WILL HAVE A LARGER AIRPOT WITH THE SAME TRAFFIC THAT WILL LEAVE A MUCH LARGER AIRPORT LOOKING EVERMORE EMPTY. WOW THAT IS A WONDERFUL FIRST IMPRESSION.

There has been so much secrecy and chaos involved in this process voters should say NO.

Haste Makes Waste!! Voters cannot afford Haste Makes Waste.

Want to create jobs? Try this concept: Keep all flights consolidated into A&B. Remodel C as a comfortable area for those with long wait times complete with wifi computer friendly cubby holes so to speak. Meeting rooms and such.

In addition provide plenty of solid and comfortable lounge chairs for snoozing that will not destroy backs. How about a high tech in home movie theatre?

Keep plenty of fresh coffee, water, milk, organic fruit and organic chocolate chip cookies available. Excellent returns on the investments. Coffee is the second most demand item in the world following oil.

Also provide exercise opportunities and two healthy eating establishments.

Terminate the privatized maintenance contractor then hire taxpayer owned service thus getting a better bang for our bucks. Thus providing some voter control.

== Save the unique and user friendly airport The current airport still has SOME debt from a remodel a few years ago therefore it is more fiscal responsible to continue improving an existing resource.

Curtis Lange 1 month ago

Your way of thinking is what will keep Kansas City from ever being more than a spot in the middle of the map. Kansas City needs a new airport and the voters will do the right thing on Tuesday voting yes.

The current airport is horrible. From the lack of seating space waiting on planes to the multiple security points to the lack of bathrooms and food options past security. List goes on and on. Flew just a couple weeks ago and had to listen to flight crews literally laughing about how terrible the airport is. They aren't wrong.

The new airport won't be some large sprawling airport like Dallas or Atlanta. People will still be able to go from their cars to their gates in ~10 minutes. No different than today. Pretty laughable thinking the new airport will seem empty too.

David Holroyd 1 month ago

Why should the voters in KCMO even vote? It is touted as being privately financed. So why is there a vote?

No reason to vote! Mayor Sly says the taxpayers pay nothing..so why vote.?

KCI = Kansas City International

It never has been an international airport. I went to Dallas to go through customs. St Louis for customs and then back to KC (fake I).

Funjet used to fly out of KC to Vegas.

Southwest wants to control the airport and the competition...if there is any any more.

It is a contractors dream and an out of town one at that.

Why is there a vote needed??

Tom Thomson 1 month ago

KCMO residents have to vote because they whined so much after this was attempted to be passed into law previously. Despite no tax dollars being used and MCI still retaining convenience after a new terminal is built, so many people are too blind to see that and want to stay in their 1970s way of thinking.

As far as your claim that "it has never been an international airport", that is simply untrue. MCI has US Customs and Border Protection Officers on scene to process inbound international flights. As of now, we have four airlines offering nonstop service to CUN. When they fly back to MCI, all passengers must clear customs, aka an international flight. We also have service to Punta Cana, DR, beginning next year. That, too, is an international flight. Additionally, MCI has nonstop service to YYZ. The return, however, pre-clears in YYZ, so pax arrive to MCI as if they were a domestic passenger.

MCI also receives lots of charter and other private flights from international cities all the time. Your lack of knowledge in this area should not be used to claim it's a fake international airport.

David Holroyd 1 month ago

Headline says "renovations" That's FAKE NEWS,,,,It is not being renovated...Demolished and a NEW TERMINAL BUILT...

Misleading story.

David Holroyd 1 month ago

Sounds like Mr. Spriggs is of the same school as what Lawrence hires for consultants. Tell them what sounds good .. Mr. Markus knows full well about that!

Michael Kort 1 month ago

1) This airport will be built using monies that will come from wherever, as in, as a ticket price added fee.......as in, it might be money from LEES SUMIT, BLUE SPRINGS!, JO CO or SOMEONE FROM SOMEWHERE IN IOWA, SOMEONE ON A CONNECTING FLIGHT OR A CONVENTION VISITOR TO KC FROM SOMEWHERE BOTH WAYS, ETC who will use KCI .

2) If they don't vote for this new airport building project, this new airport to be built with user fees, could simply move to JO CO with Kansas City and KCI being bypassed long term by the airlines .

3) Honestly, one way or the other the airlines will get a new airport somewhere and it would be the " revenge of all revenges " if BURNS AND MAC got the job of building a new airport based on user fees in JO CO, KS .........but that will probably be with all new $ runways on an all new $ site with $ new $ 400 Miliom highway off ramps which will just escalate the end costs of JO CO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT that user fees would end up paying for in multiple types of travelers from wherever ?

4) This is a major $ project that will be built by borrowing $ money which will most likely become more expensive in the future as the $ cost of money borrowed goes up along with real inflationary $ costs of engineer, buy and build, etc ..

Michael Kort 1 month ago

In other words, be careful what you refuse to have related to the airlines and KCI .

There is always a more $ expensive way of doing something, such as the airlines starting from scratch in JO CO .

Richard Heckler 1 month ago

Why does KCMO need a new airport? It will not change anything regarding number of flights. If the customers were there more flights would be there.

The floor at KCMO is a work of art. It is a floor that no other airport has.

If politicians hadn't started this escapade there would be no talk about it. People would be coming and going as usual.

KCMO is not just a spot on the map. It is a lively large city in America.

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