KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A group opposed to bringing a single terminal to KCI hopes to let voters decide the fate of the 40-year-old airport.
Friends of KCI has drafted a new petition asking for an ordinance that would prohibit the city from demolishing or replacing any passenger terminal at the airport "without voter approval."
Airport leaders say the $1.2 billion project would be paid for entirely through airline and passenger fees -- not local taxpayer money. Since local taxpayer money wouldn't be used, the airport would only need voter approval for the project if they decide to sell bonds to finance it.
Airport leaders want a new, single-terminal design because they say the current layout is inefficient and presents security concerns. They say that is costing Kansas City flights to new destinations.
Still, proponents of the petitions say voters should get a say. They're counting on the fact that a majority of Kansas Citians like the airport and don't want it to change. They believe the city has more important issues to focus on right now.
"We have one of the highest murder rates per capita in the United States. That is shameful. We have high crime. We have poverty. We have broken streets. We have terrible parks, and the focus is to build an airport that we don't need," said John Murphy, a spokesman for the group.
The mayor's office appointed a 24-person committee to study KCI's needs this week.
The mayor's spokesman, Danny Rotert, released the following statement to 41 Action News about the petition:
"The Mayor, just this week, appointed a 24-member advisory group of local residents to examine the future of KCI and provide guidance on how best to proceed. The purpose of that commission is to find community consensus and welcome all ideas to the table. Now is a time to talk not yell.
The City is relying on the new citizens advisory group to gather facts and make recommendations based on those facts --- not on emotion. There is no doubt KCI, as it is now, works very well for some. The question is how do we continue to make it work as well for residents for decades to come? Any petition that ties the hands of future generations of Kansas Citians may not have their best interest at heart."
Meanwhile, proponents of the petition would need 3,500 signatures to get it on the ballot. They say they plan to start collecting signatures this weekend.