The effort to build a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport has entered its “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” phase.
In 2013, the City Council tried to rush through a decision to plan for a single terminal at KCI, under the bullheaded leadership of Aviation Director Mark VanLoh. Outraged public criticism ensued.
Dutifully, City Hall put together a more rigorous evaluation of KCI’s future. Most recently, city staff members, consultants and airlines representatives have trooped before a special City Council committee to explain the ins and outs of improving the airport.
The experts have presented facts, drawings, photos, studies and other important information. The latest session Tuesday focused on how constructing a new, single terminal could be convenient in many ways for passengers. That’s a key consideration given how many people like the current KCI.
As the meetings have occurred, the airlines that initially seemed inclined to rehab the horseshoe-designed airport came around to say that a modern terminal made the most sense for them and their passengers.
Some skeptics remain unbowed.
Council member Teresa Loar sat through Tuesday’s informative session but at the end failed to offer one question of substance. Instead, Loar said condescendingly, she wanted to know why so much money was being spent on studies and consultants when no one had asked the public what it wanted to do.
The response to such a silly proclamation is straightforward.
If the city had not done its due diligence asking the airlines what they thought was feasible and what its customers might want over the next 20 years, City Hall would have looked downright stupid putting anything before the public — from something as big as a bond issue to something as simple as a questionnaire.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
If a new terminal is built, revenue from passengers’ tickets, parking, concessions and other airport charges would finance it. General tax funds would not be used, despite recent inaccurate contentions by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves.
Yet while the airlines support a new terminal, some detractors still are trying to shove upgraded horseshoe terminals down their throats.
The airlines are scheduled to present a final plan to the council later this month. The council should evaluate that proposal, and then decide whether the public will be asked to approve a large bond issue for a new, better KCI.