How will you answer the airport question on November 7?
“Shall the City of Kansas City be authorized to construct a new passenger terminal at Kansas City International Airport and demolish existing terminals as necessary, with all costs paid solely from the revenues derived by the City from the operation of its airports and related facilities, and without the issuance of general airport revenue bonds unless such general airport revenue bonds have received prior voter approval?”
If you grew up using Kansas City International, you’ve always known it’s not like other airports. When you were small you may have enjoyed running the curve of the horseshoe shape, sparkly, starry floor underfoot, ahead of your parents and quickly out of sight.
If you moved away, though, your nostalgia for it might have turned to embarrassment when friends got wind of where you were headed for winter break. “Oh, I’ve been through that airport,” your friends would say, shaking their heads.
You knew they meant it was weird. And it is weird.
In fact, the only other airport also designed to allow people to pretty much step out of their cars and into their gates is Tegel, all the way in Germany.
The new Tegel airport is slated to open in August of 2018, but a few weeks ago 56% of Berlin voters said they wanted the old one to stay open as well — they love their funny airport, too.
What’s your vote?
Katie Kauffman says she’s never had an issue with the airport and thinks it would be a mistake to raze the three horseshoes.
The office manager of a historic preservation firm, she says she loves all things history and feels disdain for our culture’s habit of leveling buildings older than 35 years.
“If a building can make it to 50 years, they’re these cool, magical, retro, vintage wonderlands that—oh my gosh—look at how they built this building 50 years ago!” Kauffman says. “There’s this weird thing that happens where everyone wants to tear them down, but if they don’t, they think they’re really awesome. I think that’s something that’s going to happen at KCI.”
The history buff wonders why it wouldn’t work to put security in Terminal A, then build some sort of tram or walkway to the other terminals. Kauffman says the new design ideas are not at all clear to her.
“When we built KCI, we were going for something. We were trying to be the most innovative. We were trying to do something different and unique, and now it feels like we’re going to build the same shopping mall style terminal that every other city in the United States has,” she says.
Follow her on Twitter @KatieKCMO.
Taco Salazar, a federal government employee, used to be against constructing a new airport.
A KCMO resident, he says he loves the current airport, but last month he decided a new one would be nice. Salazar recalls the moment when he changed his tune: It happened on his return trip from Cuba during a stop at the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
On a bathroom pit stop he was “looking at the nice penny tiles on the wall, seeing the various colors that looked very Florida-like” and remembers thinking, “Boy, they really did a nice job here. Reminds me of fish and the sea. KC could have something like that.”
He concludes: “So let’s just do the damn thing and be grateful for it. I can’t imagine it will suck.”
Follow him @TheTacoSalazar.
Michael Slusar started out neutral on the airport issue. He moved to KCMO from a suburb of Milwaukee about a year ago to continue his work in IT. For several months, he couldn’t understand what the fuss was about.
Though he says some skepticism remains, especially regarding the transparency issues surrounding the source of funding for the project, his increasing familiarity with KCI has won him over to Team New Airport.
Slusar says that for him a new airport is a matter of increased comfort as he waits for his flight. He wants more restrooms in the secure area, more food options and a space that doesn’t look out of date.
Josh Weinstock is a media specialist in a marketing and communications nonprofit. A few of his friends are on Team Old Airport, so he created “Save KCI” T-shirts to get a rise out of them.
He’s been in favor of new construction since it was proposed, but lives in Kansas City, Kansas, so won’t get to vote.
“We need an update,” he says, not only because KCI is uncomfortable during delays and layovers, but because in his moonlighting as an Uber driver, he hears travelers talk about avoiding connecting flights here. He says it’s embarrassing.
Follow him @JDWeinstock.
Boyce Richardson is an attorney who moved to KCMO from North Carolina in 2010. He thinks Kansas City is well-positioned to go in any direction people can imagine.
“We’re left in a situation where for Kansas City to progress as a city over all and sort of meet the requirements of the city in 2017, there’s no other option than to build the new terminal,” Richardson says.
A new airport would go a long way toward putting the city on equal footing with other cities of its size.
“A new terminal can, and probably will be, equally as convenient as the old terminal,” he says, “but will allow for additional nonstop flights, larger planes, and potentially transatlantic nonstop flights from MCI to locations that I don’t think people ever thought they might be able to get to from Kansas City.”
Follow him @SamuraiHawk.
Carolyn Anderson is VisitKC’s social media manager. Anderson says that a new airport will benefit the entire region, not just Kansas City.
She points to research that shows one in 19 jobs benefit from tourism, including everything from hotel elevator repair to catering. She also mentions that if a city can generate money through tourism, it doesn’t have to collect money in other ways, such as taxes.
If a new airport can attract new tourists, she thinks it will also attract new businesses to the area.
“This is our welcome mat to the city and it’s some people’s only impression of us,” Anderson says.
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