KC Council approves revised plan with Edgemoor for new single terminal airport in 8-5 vote

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Council has approved a revised memorandum of understanding with Edgemoor on Thursday night for Kansas City's new single terminal airport.

The memorandum passed in an 8-5 vote.

Council members Scott Wagner, Heather Hall, Teresa Loar, Lee Barnes Jr. and Scott Taylor voted against the revised memorandum. Council members Dan Fowler, Quinton Lucas, Jermaine Reed, Katheryn Shields, Jolie Justus, Alissia Canady, Kevin McManus and Mayor Sly James all voted in favor of it.

Just last week the city's aviation committee unanimously approved a revised memorandum of understanding with the Maryland-based firm. A memorandum of understanding is a document between parties that outlines the agreement -- in this case, the new airport project.

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The $1 billion project has gone through plenty of turbulence after it was approved in November. Council members rejected the memorandum of understanding with Egdemoor back in December.

Thursday's council meeting was packed. Several attendees wore "Ready for takeoff" stickers in support of Edgemoor.

Several council members said Thursday they’ve never felt so attacked by interested parties as debate about Edgemoor’s continued involvement played out over the past month.

“These are humongous decisions and a hell of a lot of money, and I think we just need to have everybody back off, settle down and let us do our jobs,” Loar said Thursday.

“Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve got messages that suggest I’ve sold out black folks. I’ve sold out the city,” said Lucas, who changed his initial vote.

James, was less concerned with the political pressure.

“You’re here to make hard decisions, and when you have hard decisions involving large amounts of money, people get all sorts of weird sometimes," he said. "That’s the nature of the beast. You can’t take it personally.”

But James did ask for civility as the council will vote on a development agreement with  Edgemoor at a later date.

“We need to continue this in a smooth and business like manner, and get this done without a lot of problems and rancor,” Mayor James said.

Before that can happen, Edgemoor still has to finish environmental work, drawings, architectural work and negotiations with airlines and labor. Groundbreaking would be scheduled for the fall.

But before the memorandum was approved, there was a fierce debate in the council's chambers.

The main concerns centered around Edgmoor’s commitment to minority hiring, labor hiring and other issues.

“Those who will never get an opportunity to work at the airport probably won’t get an opportunity to fly out of this airport," Barnes Jr. said Thursday of a lack of community benefits for distressed census tracks.

The revised memorandum of understanding resolved 43 of the 45 concerns expressed by council members.

Chief among the changes are holding Edgemoor to a minority and women owned business participation rate of 35 percent for the $1 billion project.

Reimbursement for costs incurred by the developer, should the agreement be terminated, has also been reduced from $30 million to $23.2 million.

A community benefits agreement is now worth more than $28 million and includes money for veterans and Northland projects.