Negotiations break down between KC council & company selected to build KCI single-terminal airport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Council has rejected the memorandum of understanding with Edgemoor, the company selected to design a new, single-terminal Kansas City airport, and the city may be negotiating with another firm in the future.

Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed tweeted Thursday that the negotiation was unsuccessful, and the MOU failed in a 9-4 vote. Councilman Quinton Lucas told Fox 4's Dave D'Marko that the four votes in support of Edgemoor's MOU came from the project's key supporters: Mayor Sly James and council members Jolie Justus, Jermaine Reed and Kathryn Shields.

The negotiations between the city and Edgemoor are now terminated, Reed said.

A memorandum of understanding is a document between parties that outlines the agreement -- in this case, the new airport project.

According to the Kansas City Star, a proposed community benefits package seems to be the reason for the dissent.

Councilman Quinton Lucas said he voted against a memorandum of understanding to work with Edgemoor in part because of $30 million in reimbursements Edgemoor wanted for its work up to this point, including supporting the project ahead of the election.

He was also concerned with unanswered questions about how the firm would fund the project going forward.

“Why we don’t have more financial details, why it seems the city is going to be bound to millions of dollars of obligations even before work has started?"  What we wanted to do was make sure we get those answers, unfortunately up to this point we haven’t gotten them," Lucas said.

Lucas said city leaders didn't push for a vote on a memorandum of understanding prior to the election because some were worried about this very scenario and how a vote against Edgemoor's involvement would affect the public’s vote on Election Day.

"In terms of what is next, we proceed accordingly, and citizens of Kansas City can be assured we will continue to work diligently during the next days and weeks ahead to get the best, world-class airport for our city," Reed said in a statement.

Reed said the city council has created a new resolution that would allow the city to negotiate with AECOM, another firm. If that negotiation would also fail, other firms like Burns and McDonnell could be considered.

But first, the new resolution will be assigned to a committee of Mayor Sly James' choosing, which is expected to be formed in the next 24 hours.  That committee will decide what's next for Kansas City's new single-terminal airport.

James was not supportive of the council's decision.

"It's unfortunate that progress on the project will be slowed by today's vote," he said on Twitter. "This simply isn't the way a city that values facts and data does business."

But Reed said he plans to keep progress up on the plan.

"Despite what has occurred today, I am redoubling my efforts starting tonight to work hard to ensure that progress and forward motion on this development will continue,” Reed said. “We will not stop. We will not give up."

Edgemoor had a meeting scheduled Thursday night to get feedback on designs from the community. It was abruptly canceled after the city announced its rejection.

“The city has decided to change course, they are interested in negotiating with another team," Edgemoor's Dan Moylan told the crowd.

 

Some of the people who showed up at Edgemoor's meeting were frustrated with the newest development in the KCI project.

“It should have already been planned out," Opal Turrell said. "We voted on it. Let them have it and start building it."

“If you are going to build something over $1 billion, have a vote for it, have your ducks in a row, have a final plan," her son Bruce Turrell said. "This changing in the middle of the stream is lack of leadership and management on the part of city hall."

"We really appreciate your interest in helping us in our efforts in what we thought was going to be an outstanding airport," Moylan told people as they filed out of the canceled design meeting.

“We will get a new airport, and we get a new airport in the same timetable. What we are going to make sure is we do it right," Lucas said.