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Posts Tagged ‘KCI’

Well, now we’re talking…

The Star came out yesterday with an editorial endorsing a single-terminal airport.

Mincing no words, the editorial began:

“Building a modern, fully functional airport is a high priority for the Kansas City area, residents and many local companies.

“Here’s one clear vision of what a new Kansas City International Airport would feature: a single terminal with convenient passenger drop-off zones, efficient security lines, quick walks to gates, and a wider variety of desirable restaurants and shops.”

The editorial is great news for backers of a new terminal, which is estimated to cost upwards of $1 billion.

Voters will be asked to approve revenue bonds to finance construction, and, despite the waning power of print, The Star still leads the way on community issues. I worked for The Star, as many of you know, for nearly 37 years, and it has always looked out for what is in the best interests of the public. It’s a non-vested-interest institution that the vast majority of area residents trust, even if they don’t like the paper’s left-tilting political endorsements.

So, the “Save KCI” crowd just caught a bad break: They are now in for a likely losing battle against the Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Council, the Aviation Department, the airlines, the political consultants (who stand to make big bucks off the campaign), KC Star jackhammer editorial writer Yael Abhoulkah…and, of course, the very influential JimmyCsays.

A 24-member panel appointed by Mayor Sly James is holding hearings and meetings on the issue, and you can expect this to be a slow process. That’s partly because a lot of people are wedded to the hopelessly archaic and sentimental idea that the three-terminal set-up — with its dark, vapid, curving concourses — is the best airport layout ever invented. “By God, it’s ours, and you can’t take it from is,” might as well be their schoolyard campaign slogan.

So, the powers that be — no dummies at shaping public opinion — will wait out the brunt of the opposition and will chip away at educating the electorate. going education.

The Star’s editorial now has this project poised to lift off, eventually.

P1020617

LAX…A single terminal KCI could have concourses that look something like this…”Hey, Mom, it’s bright in here, and there are plenty of places to buy souvenirs and eat!”

Wisely, The Star isn’t swallowing whole the $1.2 billion plan proposed by the Aviation Department. In the editorial, the paper encouraged the study panel to “investigate other ideas that have been proposed to ‘save’ the current KCI and especially its convenient passenger drop-off feature.”

The Star also said the cost estimate needs to be trimmed. Many opponents are shrieking about the price tag and saying that it’s a big waste of money and would detract from, and perhaps supersede, other high-dollar projects, such as repairing streets and bridges and upgrading the antiquated water and sewer system.

The Star parried that groundless objection by explaining:

“In reality, Kansas City already has a solid list of projects aimed at improving public services, and all are being done with dollars that would never be spent to build a better KCI.”

In other words, not all the project are being financed from a single fund, with various projects competing against one another for financing.

Consider:

— The water and sewer upgrades are being financed in large part by the water and sewer rates that the city high-handedly jacked up a year or so ago, when it went to monthly bills instead of bi-monthly…with the monthly bills being about the same as the bi-monthly bills had been.  (Those bills are headed ever higher, by the way.)

— Street and bridge repairs come out of general operating funds and the city’s capital improvements sales tax.

— Two other voter-approved sales taxes are paying for fire and police department improvements, including new facilities.

Don’t let the whiners intimidate you with their squawking refrain, “We can’t afford it!”

Yes, we can. This is a big city and it takes big bucks to keep a big city humming.

I feel a lot more confident today than I did yesterday. I can almost hear the humming of the power tools at work on a new, single terminal in Platte County, MO.

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About this damned airport — Kansas City International, or as I know it, Kansas City Insipid Airport.

On Tuesday, June 1, The Star’s Randolph Heaster had a front-page story saying that reduced traffic at KCI — only 42 of 63 gates are being used — has airport officials looking more seriously at the possibility of scrapping the three-terminal set-up and going to a single terminal.

The story prompted at least two letters to the editor in The Star, both stressing how “convenient” and “traveler-friendly” Kansas City Insipid is.

I say balderdash. KCI is the dullest, dreariest major airport I’ve ever seen, and it’s horribly inefficient as far as check-in, security and concessions. A move to a single terminal — an inevitability — can’t happen soon enough for me. 

A new, all-in-one terminal would inject energy into Kansas City, just as construction of the Power & Light District energized downtown. When you’re going after conventions and out-of-town visitors, you have to get people’s attention the moment they come off the jetway and take in their new, temporary surroundings. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if the people who prattle on about KCI’s convenience are among those who complain about continued references to Kansas City’s “cowtown” roots. Well, I think we should be proud of our heritage and play it up. It’s distinctive, and it’s us. But it doesn’t mean we’re dull and dowdy.

That cowtown past is part of what piqued my curiosity about Kansas City when I pulled into town — driving my ’59 white Pontiac — in the fall of 1969. I remember going downtown to the Towne Cinema, I believe it was, and seeing the John Wayne movie “True Grit.” Maybe it was the movie and maybe it was just me — young and single and on the cusp of life on my own — but as I stood on the street later that afternoon and watched people pour out of the office buildings, I got a sense of a city with a pulse, a city where you could have a good time and set your own pace.  

But that’s not the sense that travelers get when they arrive at KCI, is it? No. You step off the plane and into the terminal and you’re usually hit with the sight of a nearly empty concourse and the sounds of luggage wheels on marble. It doesn’t exactly cultivate a sense of action and excitement.

That’s what I want my city to have — a sense of excitement. As people get off the plane and check out their surroundings, I want them to be thinking, “All right, now, this is looking promising. What adventures are in store in this former cowtown?”

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