Letter: Studies will provide clearer picture of airport viability
To the editor:
A petition is circulating requesting a vote on the proposed new general aviation airport to serve Leavenworth County. However, a vote is premature, as a site has not been identified and the planning process isn’t complete.
During initial planning discussions, Leavenworth County Air and Business Park Committee members agreed that a business park must accompany an airport development. The project’s ultimate goal is to increase and promote business development that will create more jobs and generate more tax revenues for our community.
Only the first of four studies the Federal Aviation Administration requires before construction of a new airport has been completed. Leavenworth County, the constituent cities (Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor, Tonganoxie) and the Leavenworth County Port Authority funded the study. The FAA required this study be funded 100 percent by the local sponsor because it had already paid for a similar study 15 years ago. The remaining three studies (site selection, master plan and environmental assessment) and any essential airport components are eligible for 95 percent funding from the aviation trust fund, which is funded through user fees on aviation fuel, tickets and other aviation-related products.
The site selection study is estimated to cost $150,000. The FAA will pay for 95 percent of this cost with the remaining five percent to be paid by the local sponsor. For a relatively small investment of $7,500 to be split between the county and cities, the site selection study can be completed. The cost of a special election is estimated to be $35,000. The county commission already has committed to putting the issue to a vote once these studies are completed. Without these studies, citizens will not have the complete picture from which to make an informed vote.
Volunteer chairman of the Leavenworth County Air and Business Park Committee