City Council supportive of regional airport study
Lansing City Council members voiced their support for funding a study to determine the need for a regional airport in Leavenworth County but will delay taking the issue to a vote until the source of the money to fund the study is determined.
In a regular council meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, Greg Kaaz, chairman of the Leavenworth County Air and Business Park Committee, presented a proposed funding formula for the airport justification study.
That formula is based on a city's overall population and valuation and is also used annually to determine municipal funding for the Leavenworth County Development Corp. It would call for an 8.09 percent commitment from the city.
Under the current model and using $100,000 as a maximum amount for the study, that would equate to a $6,877 expenditure.
Commitments from the Leavenworth County Port Authority (up to $15,000), Leavenworth County ($50,770), the city of Leavenworth ($21,284), Tonganoxie ($3,052) and Basehor ($3,018) already have been received.
Kaaz explained the goals of the study.
"The justification study basically looks at the current aircraft in the county and looks at what aircraft would use this new airport if we were to construct it," he said. "The study would define the area of use, it would define and forecast traffic patterns and usage and determine if a need for a new airport exists in this part of the metropolitan area."
He added he was encouraged by an Oct. 24 meeting with the Federal Aviation Administra-tion, in which FAA officials "felt that there would probably be a need in this area."
He noted that Leavenworth city officials have attempted to keep the only public airport in Leavenworth County - Fort Leavenworth's Sherman Army Airfield - open while working with the county to explore other options.
Kaaz said a site for an airport and attached business park in the county has not yet been determined and would not be until the site selection process begins after the justification study.
The FAA could fund 95 percent of the project through a competitive grant on a reimbursement basis but will not participate in the justification study or in construction of a private business center.
Although Kaaz told council members the Business and Air Park Committee has received positive feedback from federal officials, he said, "The FAA was upfront with us and said, 'You're going to have a lot of challenges.'"
"It's going to take at least five, six, probably eight years before you're going to see any construction," he added.
Kaaz also acknowledged that, realistically, the airport has a one in five chance of actually being built.
Mayor Kenneth Bernard said he would be willing to support the justification study provided the airport and business park would be in the county and not in any specific city, giving municipalities an equal opportunity to reap any financial benefit using the same percentages through which the study was funded.
Council member Don Studnicka also voiced support for the study but still had some questions.
"I don't think we're prepared to make a decision until we know where that $7,000 is coming from," Studnicka said.
Lansing Finance Director Rana Lacer said the expenditure would require an amendment to the city's budget.
The council is scheduled to take the issue up again at its Feb. 21 meeting.