Dave Fowler, the co-chairman of a citizens advisory panel that is considering the future of Kansas City International Airport, may have betrayed his bias toward an overhaul in an odd moment of a hearing Tuesday morning in City Hall.
By STEVE PAUL
The Kansas City Star
During the meetings first segment, Jim Johnson, a regional manager here for the Federal Aviation Administration, had been testifying about federal funds, based on fees, that come back to airports for certain uses. And he asserted the FAAs neutrality on terminal design issues, except for safety concerns and the geometrics of landing strips, gate aprons and similar exterior features.
Johnson reiterated that the federal agency had no interest in or responsibility for interior terminal layouts.
Everybody knows Kansas Citys airport is a unique design, Johnson said. Its a personal preference for some and a nightmare for others.
Fowler pounced on the latter half of the sentence: A nightmare for others, he repeated. He seemed to be joking, but he also seemed to be enticing agreement from Johnson and others in the room.
Nightmare, of course, buttresses the business communitys argument that KCIs three-terminal concept needs to be replaced by a more efficient and alluring (in their view) single-terminal plan. And its the polar opposite of what the panel and others are hearing from citizens who are clinging to the convenience and comforts of the 42-year-old airport.
Later, during testimony by representatives of the panels outside airport consultants, Frasca & Associates, Fowler went a little off track by wondering aloud and rhetorically that the most important question is, Why is KCI unique?
That misses the point. The real question ought to be, Is KCIs unique, circular, three-terminal design still viable in the 21st century and if not, what should be done about it?
The KCI Terminal Advisory Group has been putting in hard work and long hours in search of a solution. Well know by May 1 whether they recommend to the city one of three apparent choices: a single terminal, the status quo or some level of major improvements and retrofits in between.
In the meantime, the panels leaders should listen more closely to the evidence and keep an open mind on the best course.