KCI task force will announce vote on airport’s future May 7

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04/22/2014 10:18 AM

05/16/2014 1:19 PM

After nearly a year of meetings, fact-finding and discussions, a citizens task force will announce a recommendation May 7 on whether to renovate or build new at Kansas City International Airport.

The KCI Terminal Advisory Group held its last public discussion Tuesday, and most members indicated they are ready to choose one of three alternatives:

• Renovate the individual terminals and keep them separate at KCI.

• Renovate the terminals but connect them with a central building.

• Construct a new single terminal.

Task force co-chair Bob Berkebile said that based on worksheets many of the members have already turned in, he sees a clear majority opinion emerging. He said the level of analysis has been sophisticated and assures him the decision won’t be a “beauty contest” or a political calculation. But he declined to divulge the direction of the voting because too many members have not turned in their worksheets and he didn’t want to prejudge the conclusion.

Only 17 of the task force’s 24 members were in attendance Tuesday. Some were traveling or out of the country. The task force’s co-chairs said waiting until early May will allow all members a chance to participate.

Members will vote by email on a recommended terminal configuration and answer other related questions, and the results will be announced at a public meeting scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 7. A more detailed written report from the yearlong study will follow.

Advisory group member Nia Richardson spoke for several when she said she doesn’t believe the task force has been given enough information to make a final recommendation.

“There’s still so much that needs to be considered,” she said, arguing that it would be better just to lay out the three alternatives and the pros and cons of each.

Co-chair Dave Fowler agreed the task force does not have credible construction cost estimates on any of the alternatives. But he said it’s not possible to get that kind of information until the city picks a specific design and has construction drawings, and that was not the task force’s mission.

Task force member Dan Cranshaw said the group does have sufficient information to make a worthwhile recommendation to the City Council on a preferred terminal configuration. He reminded the group that this is just one ingredient of an ongoing dialogue involving the Aviation Department, the airlines and the public.

Eventually, Kansas City residents will have a vote on the financing for any major airport improvements, whether it’s renovation or new construction.

Some task force members have expressed reluctance to disclose their vote, but City Attorney Bill Geary made it clear to the group Tuesday that any final vote, and the members’ emailed answers on the recommendation, will be public under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

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