Last-minute filing challenges plan for single terminal at KCI

An artist's rendering of the proposed new design for Kansas City International Airport
An artist's rendering of the proposed new design for Kansas City International Airport

A group of Kansas City residents filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office Sunday to start a formal challenge to the planning for a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

The paperwork, filed by a committee of five petitioners, starts the process to seek a citywide vote on the future of KCI. The group needed to turn in 100 valid signatures of registered voters and gathered more than 160 signatures, according to John Murphy, a member of the petition committee, which is calling itself Friends of KCI.

“We think a $1.2 billion airport is unnecessary and wasteful,” Murphy said.

Once those signatures are verified, the group would have 30 more days to gather about 7,200 signatures to trigger an actual referendum vote.

City Manager Troy Schulte said Sunday evening he was not aware of the petition effort and had no further comment.

The referendum effort seeks to overturn the City Council’s vote on April 11 to proceed with planning to replace KCI’s existing three terminals with one new terminal. Preliminary estimates say the terminal, a new parking garage and other infrastructure would cost $1.2 billion.

Council members said at the time that they realized many residents love KCI the way it is and don’t want it to change. They said much more analysis would be done, including public hearings this summer, before they make a final decision on a new KCI terminal.

Under the city charter, citizens have 10 days after a council vote to start the referendum process, so Sunday was the deadline for those preliminary petitions.

Murphy said the committee of petitioners decided Thursday to start collecting the signatures, and they were able to get more than 100 from Friday through Sunday. They alerted the city clerk, who opened her office on Sunday to receive those petitions.

In an email Sunday evening, the committee said that once the notice of referendum is validated, the group will begin to gather signatures on petitions to make the issue a ballot question.

“The people of Kansas City should decide whether they want to spend this money or not,” the group said in its email.