Local group looks to send single-terminal KCI decision to voters

City says the petition is invalid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With a 9-3 vote earlier this month, the city council in Kansas City seemed to put to rest the question of whether or not to move forward with a $1.2 billion dollar renovation of the airport. A single terminal it would be.

John Murphy of Brookside apparently didn't get the message.

The businessman and father is the driving force behind a group calling itself "Friends of KCI." Sunday afternoon, he filed a petition with the city clerk's office looking to send that council vote back to the people of Kansas City to decide by ballot.

"We got 165 now and about 7100 more to go," Murphy said on Sunday evening, laughing as he looked over the petition. His group needs 7,200 signatures in the next 30 days to get the KCI airport question sent to the city's voters to decide.

Monday, city officials declared the petition invalid on the grounds that the council's vote was only a resolution, not an ordinance. Officials said that a referendum can only overturn the latter.

The group said they are looking into the invalidation, and if it holds true, they will continue to object to the project during future hearings.

"At some point, the city will need to pass an ordinance to build the terminal," Murphy told 41 Action News. "If they do, we will then submit a new petition objecting to it."

The battle over the airport is a heated one. The three-terminal design is lauded by some passengers and industry publications for its convenience, but it also presents security challenges, and long lines and backup often develop on busy mornings. Many modern airport conveniences are missing.

Murphy's objection to the single-terminal plan, which calls for consolidating the airport's three terminals into one larger, more efficient one where Terminal A now stands, is partly financial and partly based on what he says are the cities misplaced priorities. Dedicate time and money to fixing the city schools and reducing crime, he says, and leave the airport for another day.

"I'm the guy who's getting on top of his desk and yelling stop," Murphy said. "Let's get the city council and the city focused on the things that Kansas City actually needs."

The price tag troubles Murphy, too. The airport redesign is estimated to cost some $1.2 billion dollars, to be paid for with a mix of federal grants, increased fees on passengers and revenue bonds. City and airport officials say it won't cost the general public a dime in taxes, which Murphy says is a hollow promise.

""They've said that about the Sprint Center. They said that about the Power and Light District," Murphy said. "They've said that about a million other projects they've tried to sell us."

The group does not have a website, and they are communicating with supporters and one another through a Gmail address. Murphy is hopeful his group can organize quickly.

"What we're going to do is do it the old fashioned way --  Set up card tables in front of supermarkets, fairs, first Friday events, just bang the pavement," Murphy said. "Do it true grassroots style. Stop. Stop the madness."

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