Firm unveils Leavenworth County airport site recommendations
Lansing If a regional airport comes to Leavenworth County in the near future, it appears bound for the northeast part of the county.
It also won't arrive until after several more years of planning and, county commissioners say, a countywide vote.
At a workshop Wednesday in Lansing, a consulting firm unveiled three possible sites for a future general aviation airport in the county, and all were in the Leavenworth and Lansing area.
The three recommended sites are off Gilman Road east of Lansing, off Eisenhower Road southwest of Leavenworth and off Coffin Road west of Fort Leavenworth.
The recommendations were the result of a site selection study by Coffman Associates, an airport consulting firm based in Lee's Summit, Mo. In August 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to pay 95 percent of the study's cost, about $150,000. Leavenworth County paid for the rest of the cost, about $4,000.
The funding the FAA provides for airport studies comes from taxes and fees collected on tickets, fuel and other things from commercial airlines.
Mike Dmyterko, project manager for Coffman Associates, said at the worksthop that the firm had looked for possible sites in the southern portion of the county during the study, but it could not find any suitable locations, for a number of reasons, including proximity to the municipal airport on the north edge of Lawrence.
“Those three are about the best you're going to get,” Dmyterko said of the recommended sites.
He said the workshop was intended to give the public a chance to comment on the proposed sites before the consulting firm selects one of them as its final recommendation, likely in about two months.
Patrick Taylor, a planner for Coffman Associates, said the Eisenhower Road site would likely be dropped as a contender because of rocky terrain that would require costly excavation. That would leave the Gilman Road site, about one mile east of K-7 on the Lansing city boundary, and the Coffin Road site, just less than two miles west of Fort Leavenworth. Both those areas are largely farmland, Taylor said, though the Gilman Road area also contains a few homes.
The final decision to recommend a site will come after the FAA investigates possible conflicts with other airspaces, Taylor said.
He said another purpose of the workshop was to show residents that the airport planning process is still far from being complete, leaving any final decision several years away. The firm is partway through the second of four studies required by the FAA in the planning process. A decision by the county to acquire land a start construction would not likely arrive for about three more years, according to materials from the site study.
The airport, meant to spur economic development, would be coupled with an attached business park, Taylor said.
Barbara Paulus, who lives south of Basehor, said she had not realized how far off a decision by the county would be. She said she went to the workshop to make sure residents would have some input in the decision-making process.
“I wanted to make sure that my voice would be heard,” said Paulus, a former private pilot.
Shirley Trower, a Basehor resident, said she went to the workshop to voice her opposition to a new airport.
“We've got gravel roads all over this county,” Trower said. “We need to take care of what we already have.”
County commissioners said last year when they commissioned the site selection study that they would put the issue of a new airport up for a countywide vote before making a final decision.
At last week's Leavenworth County Development Corporation board meeting, county commissioner John Flower repeated that promise.
“It will go to a vote before we break ground,” he said.
Flower said that if the airport were ultimately built, he guessed the total cost for the county would amount to around $2.5 million, after the FAA paid for the bulk of the cost.