Three good developments and a somber one to report today:
** Congratulations to Councilwoman Teresa Loar for taking the lead in generating a bold, far-reaching and fairly economical proposal for renovating at least one of the existing three KCI terminals.
The Star’s City Hall reporter, Lynn Horsley, laid it all out in a long front-page story today. It’s a must read.
Loar, a Northland resident, has been active on airport matters in two stints on the City Council — the current one and one from 1995-2003. As a member of the council’s Aviation Committee — and also as a smart politician who recognizes widespread voter resistance to tearing down the three terminals and building a new single one — she recruited a local engineering firm to develop a new plan that would retain much of the convenience of the existing airport.
What Crawford Architects came up with, in conjunction with several engineering and aviation firms, is a proposal to double the width of Terminal A to provide more space for ticketing, retail and baggage return. The plan also would reduce the number of security checkpoints from four to two, and more parking levels would be added.
Crawford estimates the expansion and renovation to cost about $336 million — about a third of the estimated cost of building a new single terminal. If demand and customer growth was sufficient, a second terminal could be renovated in similar manner and at roughly the same cost, not considering inflation.
The city’s airport consultants will review the proposal and cost estimates and get back to the council next month.
If the numbers hold up, this could be the compromise that breaks the stand-off. As you know, I’m a strong advocate for a new single terminal. I say it’s time to get rid of the circular terminals and get a new single terminal with straight-line concourses that stretch out from the terminal hub. Like many people, I also want more retail and much better restaurant and fast-food options. At the same time, I’m a realist and understand that resistance to razing the three terminals and starting anew is probably not acceptable to a majority of Kansas City voters.
So, let’s see what the city’s consultants and Aviation Department leaders have to say after their review.
Whatever happens, we should all be grateful to Ms. Loar for spearheading an effort that could result in a modernized airport with a reasonable price tag.
** Another round of congratulations is in order for the Jackson County Legislature, which on Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the Royals to extend the safety netting at Kauffman Stadium to the far end of both dugouts. Major League Baseball is encouraging teams to extend the netting, but most teams probably will take it only to the near end — the home plate side — of the dugout.
Although the county owns the stadiums, it cannot require the Royals to extend the safety netting, but I’m very glad to see the Legislature inject itself into the situation. It wouldn’t surprise me if former Royals star Frank White, who recently succeeded Mike Sanders as county executive, pushed for the resolution. Several years ago, I heard him say on either radio or TV that whenever he attends games, he sits behind the netting.
I like to sit back there, too, but I don’t often get the chance because the Royals converted the area directly behind home plate to premium seating, with food and beverage service.
Whenever I go to games on someone else’s tickets and sit close to the field and down the first- or third-base line, it’s hard for me to relax, for fear of screaming foul balls.
It’s definitely time to take the netting much farther down the line, but it’s probably going to take a few more years — and several more seriously injured fans — for it to happen at all stadiums.
** Another baseball-related development: Rustin Dodd, a Kansas City Star sportswriter who has been covering KU athletics, has been promoted to be the primary reporter covering the Royals. He succeeds Andy McCullough, who is going to the Los Angeles Times to cover the Dodgers. Dodd has worked his way up the ladder on The Star’s sports desk, and I expect he’ll do a great job. The Star has a history of outstanding Royals’ beat writers.
** On a bleak note, I was very sorry to learn of the violent death of Anne Swaney, a 39-year-old Chicago journalist, who grew up in Platte City and graduated from Platte County High School in 1994.
Swaney, executive producer of online operations at WLS-TV, was found floating in a river last Friday morning near a horse farm in western Belize, where she was vacationing. It appeared to be a crime of opportunity and possibly passion.
She was due to go on a group horseback riding excursion Thursday but stayed behind to do yoga because there weren’t enough horses. Her belongings were found on the dock where she was doing yoga…Police in Belize have detained a “person of interest” but have released few details. Anne was a niece of the late Evert Asjes, a former Kansas City councilman. She will be buried in Platte City.
Her obituary ran in today’s Star. Here it is.