Monday, Nov. 19 2012 5:44PM
Airport expansion OKd
By Russ Pulley
Lee’s Summit’s City Council inched toward airport expansion this week by voting to direct city staff to negotiate to buy or condemn land needed for runway extension.
The vote was 6-1 with Councilmember Derek Holland voting no.
The Council also voted to pay $538,405 to the Swallowtail Bank for wetland mitigation at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport.
That is a requirement to replace some areas in the expansion area which are designated as wetlands by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which would be destroyed by grading. The money goes into a fund which will either be used to help buy a larger tract of wetland to protect it from development or to artificially construct a wetland.
It is a requirement of federal law, noted Councilmember Ed Cockrell, who voted for the measure. However he criticized the designation, saying he’d never seen any ducks at the airport.
“It’s important in some areas, not this case, but we have to do it,” Cockrell said.
Federal and state grants will cover nearly 98 percent of the cost with money coming aviation taxes. The city’s match for the mitigation cost is $13,460, which would come from about a $600,000 the city has in credit to use for matches with the Federal Aviation Administration because of prior land purchases for the airport, Director of Public Works Chuck Owsley said.
Depending on how the cost of the additional land, Owsley said, the city expects to be able to complete grading for the runway extension, using the credit. It’s uncertain whether there would be enough money left over to begin surfacing the runway, he said.
The City Council has been historically split on various issues of airport expansion. Some are advocating an election to finance any additional improvements once the $600,000 credit has been expended.
Owsley said that decision won’t have to be made for a couple of years because of the time it will take acquire the land, finish runway design and complete the earthwork.