Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City, county officials discuss possible Leavenworth County airport

June 20, 2007

A regional airport could take flight in Leavenworth County, but it likely won't be flying solo.

Leavenworth County officials, as well as representatives from several cities within the county met Saturday at Leavenworth City Hall to discuss the possibility of a regional airport. Officials from Leavenworth County Development Corp. and Leavenworth County Port Authority also attended.

Mike Yanez, Tonganoxie's city administrator, who attended the meeting, said potential sites weren't selected, but the idea of coupling an airport with an industrial park seemed appealing to many at the meeting.

"There seemed to be a lot of consensus in the room that perhaps a regional airport with an industrial park tied in with it may have some economic merit for the county," said Yanez.

County Commissioner J.C. Tellefson, who also attended Saturday's meeting, said Tuesday that he recently toured NewCentury AirCenter, a 2,500-acre facility between Gardner and Olathe. That airfield includes an industrial park, as well as a rail system.

Tellefson said the rail system might not work for Leavenworth County, but it's something that should be evaluated because of the proximity to Kansas City, which is a leading rail hub in the United States.

Tellefson called the meeting productive, and noted that every community in the county was represented.

Jim Truesdell, Tonganoxie City Council member, said the meeting served as a good brainstorming opportunity

"I was encouraged by the way the group is going to be so open-minded," Truesdell said.

He said he too was impressed with so many entities, including the entire county and its cities, being involved in the decision-making progress.

"I was pretty encouraged," Truesdell said.

The next step for area officials would be a Federal Aviation Administration feasibility study, although how to fund it is undecided.

In 1992, officials kicked around the idea of a regional airport and, at that time, the FAA funded a feasibility study that looked at nearly 30 possible sites, Tellefson said. But officials found that, after the study was done, there wasn't as much interest as they previously envisioned.

The study cost the FAA about $60,000 at the time, Tellefson said, so it's possible the FAA won't pay for funding again.

Although a future meeting hasn't been set to discuss the topic, Tellefson said a small group of senior officials from all local entities, as well as at-large nominees, likely would be formed in the coming weeks to move forward with the project.

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