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Public urges KCI task force to preserve ‘nation’s finest airport’

Updated: 2014-03-11T16:35:26Z

By LYNN HORSLEY

The Kansas City Star

A parade of people went to the microphone Monday night to urge a citizens task force not to spoil Kansas City’s great airport with a new single terminal.

“Leave it as is and maintain it right,” Dick Foreshoe told the KCI Terminal Advisory Group as a crowd of about 60 people applauded. Many veteran travelers said Kansas City International Airport’s three-terminal design was the most convenient they experienced.

“Kansas City has the finest airport in the United States,” said Joe Galetti, a retired fire captain. “You want to go to a bad one, go to Denver.”

Dennis Lucas, a longtime maintenance mechanic at KCI, said that problems with the plumbing, boilers, chillers and other airport infrastructure have been exaggerated and can be fixed for much less than a new terminal would cost.

The remarks at Oak Park High School came during the first of four planned town hall meetings, letting the task force hear public feedback.

Only one of more than 20 speakers advocated a new terminal design.

“Don’t boo me,” Jennifer Johnson, who travels for work and with her family, said as the crowd listened respectfully. Johnson said she would like to see a new terminal with more amenities in the secured gate areas.

The task force, appointed by Mayor Sly James, recently heard conflicting testimony from Southwest Airlines officials, who cautioned against an expensive new terminal, and some business leaders, who said KCI needs big improvements to compete with airports elsewhere.

The task force hopes to issue a recommendation by May 1.

Upcoming hearings

Here is the schedule for the KCI Terminal Advisory Group’s next three community hearings. All will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.:

Feb. 24: Mohart Center, 3200 Wayne Ave., Kansas City

March 10: Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd St., Kansas City

March 20: Johnson County Community College Polsky Theater, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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