Leavenworth County airport process a slow one, official says
The conversation’s been going on for about five years, and it could last quite a while longer.
That’s the update on plans for a regional airport in Leavenworth County that Greg Kaaz delivered to Basehor Chamber of Commerce members Thursday.
“This is such a long-range thing,” Kaaz said. “You’re looking, you know, like 20 years down the road.”
Kaaz spoke to the Chamber during its monthly meeting at Reece & Nichols in Basehor. The president of Lexeco Inc., in Leavenworth, he’s also the chairman of a committee studying the possibility of a new airport and business park in Leavenworth County.
Since the county and its cities began meeting to discuss a possible new airport in 2007, they have sunk about $108,000 into two studies. If they continue with a Federal Aviation Administration-mandated study process, construction wouldn’t begin until about five to seven years from now, Kaaz said.
But because the leaders of the county’s two largest cities disagree on the best site for the possible airport, he said, that process has slowed down for now.
Each city’s leaders prefer the closer of two sites recommended by a selection study. Leavenworth officials favor a site off Coffin Road west of Fort Leavenworth, and Lansing supports a site near 127th Street and Gilman Road just east of the city. Officials from the two cities have met to discuss the issue, he said, but they have not changed their positions.
“Long story short, they have agreed to disagree,” Kaaz said.
As a May 1 deadline for the next round of FAA study funding approaches, the cities say they’d like more information about the pros and cons of the sites. County commissioners are considering further study of the economic impact of a business park attached to the airport, Kaaz said.
Hence, it could be a year or more before the process begins to move forward.
Of the airport’s estimated initial cost of $30 million, local entities would be on the hook for around $7 million, he said. The FAA would fund the rest.
Consulting firm Coffman Associates released the results of its site selection study in summer 2011. Kaaz said there were several reasons that none of the study’s top three recommended sites was near Basehor.
“They looked very hard to come up with a site in the Basehor area,” Kaaz said.
While access to U.S. Highway 24-40 was a point in Basehor’s favor, he said, a communications tower north of town and power lines south of town make an airport nearby difficult if not impossible.
“Power lines and airplanes don’t play well together,” Kaaz said.