Kansas Citians have been hearing about the supposed need for a new airport terminal for four years or more. We’ve been subjected to misleading political proclamations, overwrought editorials, public show trials, listening tours, and town hall meetings. Yet the people of Kansas City have made it clear they do not favor a new terminal.
It appears that some people can’t take No for an answer. The Aviation Department has announced what it calls “listening sessions” on its webpage, stating:
The listening sessions will be an open forum for residents to discuss their thoughts and concerns about the airport with Aviation Department leadership, and will include a short presentation to bring everyone up-to-date on previous planning efforts. Information gathered through community listening sessions will directly influence the terminal facility planning process and will be shared with City Council members. [Emphasis added.]
If the past is any indication, I question how much listening will occur. Will Aviation Department officials hear and understand the great risk to Kansas City travelers of spending over $1 billion and passing those costs onto airlines? Or will attendees be told that all the options have been considered, that mere renovation is just too expensive, and that the airlines have agreed to pay for everything? And while proponents probably won’t say that if we build a new terminal we’ll get more flights, but they will likely leave you with that impression. If it all sounds too good to be true, be on guard.
Who supports the new terminal? We can expect most members of the City Council to support a new terminal, as will the Chamber of Commerce. The usual pundits will weigh in with their usual opinions. The Kansas City Star will likely endorse a new terminal, as it has in the past. Not to be outdone, The Kansas City Business Journal has already weighed in with an underresearched story and editorial on security check point wait times.
Stiffen your resolve, Kansas City. The proposal, the arguments and the supporters will likely be the same. They say they are listening—but who are they listening to?