Archive for Thursday, October 22, 2009

Council approves of regional airport plan

October 22, 2009

The Basehor City Council has given its approval for the next stage in building a regional business airport in Leavenworth County.

At the council’s regular meeting Monday, Greg Kaaz, of the Leavenworth County Air and Business Park Committee, updated council members on the status of the project, in which a feasibility study has been completed. Kaaz said the study conducted by Coffman Associates of Lee's Summit, Mo., concluded Leavenworth County was a viable place for a new airport, which would be used for business purposes, not commercial.

Next in the process is site selection, or determining the exact location for the airport within the county. This study is expected to cost $150,000, 95 percent of which will be paid by the Federal Aviation Administration. The remaining cost will be divided between each city in the county and the county itself. Basehor agreed Monday night to pay $318.22 toward site selection.

One factor in determining where the airport will be constructed is the existence of a business or industrial park or the potential for a future business or industrial park, Kaaz said.

“It needs to be accompanied by some kind of economic growth,” Kaaz said. “An airport by itself doesn’t make sense. The FAA isn’t interested in dropping an airport in the middle of nowhere.”

Another factor to consider when deciding the airport site is its proximity to other airports. Kaaz said this airport must not be within 20 miles or 30 minutes driving time to an existing airport, according to FAA regulations.

In a study conducted by the FAA in 1992, the chosen location was what is now known as the Falcon Lakes subdivision in Basehor, Kaaz said.

“Obviously, this area can’t be used for an airport anymore,” Kaaz said. “But it does show that Basehor is a potential area for this.”

The county Air and Business Park Committee sent out surveys to current aircraft owners in the area, asking if they would consider relocating to the Leavenworth County airport should it be constructed. Kaaz said 48 surveys came back with indications the owners would come to the new airport.

“So we know that at the minimum, we could have 48 aircraft housed there right now,” Kaaz said. “That’s just a minimum. We’d probably have a lot more and even more in time.”

The whole project is estimated to cost about $35 million, Kaaz said, and would be completed within the next 10 years.

“This is something you have to think about in the long term,” Kaaz said. “We’re looking a long ways down the road.”

Also on Monday, the council:

• Approved, 3-2, to authorize additional expenditures on the Wolf Creek Parkway project in an amount not to exceed $122,900 and to direct staff to take any amount beyond what is available in the transportation revolving loan 0125 from a Kansas Department of Transportation corridor management grant. Council member Iris Dysart and Council President Jim Washington were opposed. Washington presided over Monday’s meeting in Mayor Terry Hill’s absence. An additional change order on this project may be necessary in the future to account for retaining walls on the parkway, as well as grass seeding. These items, totaling about $125,000, were taken out of Benchmark Management’s original bid in an effort to save money. Benchmark owner Ed McIntosh said he did not think the retaining walls and grass seed were required, so it was his intention to complete those two projects after he sold a few lots on Wolf Creek Parkway. The council will discuss how to approach the situation at its next work session, Nov. 2.

• Approved, 5-0, a change to the interlocal agreement for the city’s new tax rebate program. Leavenworth County will retain a standard 5 percent administrative fee for processing the tax rebate paperwork.

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