County commission expresses interest in regional airport
Leavenworth County commissioners are "on board" with the concept of a regional airport in Leavenworth County but continue to have questions.
Commissioners met Monday with city of Leavenworth officials to discuss an airport.
"I encourage you to go ahead with this while continuing to ask, 'Where will this go?' and 'Where do we get funding?'" Commissioner Clyde Graeber said. "But we can't turn our back on Sherman (Army Airfield), the only airport in Leavenworth County that serves private and commercial flights. We need to continue to utilize it while going ahead with plans for an additional facility."
Leavenworth interim city manager Robyn Stewart, who cited a 1992 study, said a regional airport would save time and money for travelers who currently must head to Kansas City International Airport and could provide another option besides Sherman, which is on Fort Leavenworth.
Stewart said Sherman Airfield has access issues because it is located in a floodplain. She also said that Federal Aviation Administration funds are not a possibility at Sherman, since it is on a military installation, whereas the FAA could fund 90 to 95 percent of the costs for a regional airport.
A site for the potential airport has yet to be determined, but Greg Kaaz, the chairman of the city's airport advisory board, said, "My personal preference is that it's adjacent to the city somewhere."
Kaaz emphasized that an airport must be conducive to economic growth around it. He raised the notion of an industrial park surrounding any prospective site.
"When KCI was built, it was more or less in the middle of a field," Kaaz said. "But Kansas City's pretty much grown out to it. That's what we're looking at here."
Kaaz said the airport would need to occupy anywhere between 600 and 900 acres of land with easements on either side of a runway at least 5,000 feet long.
In other business Monday, the commission:
- Unanimously approved a $1,200 expenditure for three booths at the Kansas Sampler Festival, a festival showcasing more than 300 communities in the state, May 5-6 in Garden City, as requested by County Counselor at Large Keyta Kelly.
Officials from the county, Lansing and Leavenworth will promote the area under the theme, 'FAN-tastic Leaven-worth County.' Paddle fans and plastic bags will bear the logo, and various artifacts will be displayed promoting Leavenworth County.
- Approved a final plat, 2-0 (Commissioner Dean Oroke was not present), for the Grae subdivision southwest of the intersection of Evans Road and 166th Street.
- Approved, a final plat, 2-0, for Auburn Hills, a 40-acre, 16-lot subdivision a half-mile south of 170th Street and Linwood Road, provided that individual wastewater systems are constructed.
At its meeting Thursday, the commission:
- Selected a final list of volunteers for the new comprehensive planning committee, which will be tasked with selecting consultants for county development projects and producing a comprehensive land use plan .
The 17-member committee will include four current members of the county planning commission: Mary Brown, Mark Denny, David Downs and Steven Rosenthal; 12 citizen-volunteers: Bob Bozworth, Cindy Brock, Sabrina Darley, Robert Doran, James Grosdidier, Sally Hatcher, Eugene Heim, Forrest Holdeman, Josh Hoppes, Lynn McClure, Carl Reed and Larry Smith; and one full-time planner in the planning and zoning department: Jason Auvil.
As promised by planning and zoning director Chris Dunn, committee membership is not limited to bankers and engineers and includes a plumber, a publisher, teachers and a retired electrician. Also, according to Dunn, the majority of the group is from rural areas.
- Heard a monthly report from the Leavenworth County Public Works Department on current county infrastructure projects.
Projects include work on 147th Street between McIntyre and Dempsey roads in Lansing, on Fairmount Road between County Route 5 and 175th Street in Fairmount Township and on an overused wastewater lagoon in sewer district No. 3 near Basehor. Public works deputy director Michael Spickelmier also reported receiving a bill from a developer with the Cedar Lake subdivision in Leavenworth County for pumping sewage in the area. According to Oroke, however, the county is only financially responsible for an initial pumping.
The commissioners also approved bids for an engine analyzer from Car Quest Auto Parts and for traffic paint from Kansas Correctional Industries at a cost of $4,283.15 and $9 per gallon, respectively. According to deputy county clerk Janice Dickson, public works used 10,500 gallons of road paint in 2006.
Spickelmier reported that the county's Solid Waste Department, under the direction of Kansas Department of Health and Environment representatives, finished a cleanup of debris at Ernie and Wanda Bjorgaard's homestead at 14301 Loring Road., on March 6 at a cost of $2,479.70.
- Approved a preliminary and final plat, 3-0, submitted by William and Stacy Driscoll for a four-lot development located east of High Prairie Road and 179th Street.
County Surveyor Dan Schmitz, whose signature was needed to proceed, signed the proposal but mentioned a "professional disagreement" with private surveyor Joe Herring of Herring Surveying Company in identifying the center corner of the section.
- Unanimously approved the rezoning of an 80-acre tract of land on Metro Avenue just north of Interstate 70 as requested by William Theno. Theno, who has farmed in Leavenworth County for over 40 years, plans on building a 41-lot subdivision on the land.
The board emphasized that the property would be visible to traffic on I-70 and that major road improvements to both 182nd Street and Metro Avenue would be necessary
- Decided that Oroke would be used as a single point of contact for the county's special buildings department.
Graeber said that nothing should be signed by special buildings without direct board approval. Oroke's technical oversight was mentioned as motivation for the selection.
- Met in three separate executive sessions totaling more than an hour to discuss issues involving personnel matters, possible litigation and possible land acquisition.