Excelsior Springs Still Considering Airport Lease Agreement

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. --   Small town revitalization continues across Missouri.

The city of Excelsior Springs continues to follow a plan laid out by the state in 2006, and that plan recommends the renovation of the its airport.

Questions are in the air at Excelsior Springs Memorial Airport. Some of them come from Jim and Sarah Dickerson. They're longtime pilots, who say they offered $25,000 from their own pockets to the city of Excelsior Springs as part of a lease agreement. The Dickersons would manage the hangars, terminal and a proposed restaurant and maintenence facility at the airport.

"We are trying to help the city," Sarah Dickerson said. "We were leasing city facilities and improving them and giving the city a brand new asset that they'll own with our own money."

The Dickersons say so far, the city council has said 'no thanks.'  The Dickersons say their offer sat on the table for most of this past summer, and finally, they took their offer back. In late December 2012, a city official confirmed for FOX 4 that the city was still considering that offer.

"We felt it was a project that was very worthwhile that would really enhance the city," Jim Dickerson said. "We didn't understand why the city didn't jump all over this offer."

The Dickersons say city council members say liability was an issue, but no one in government would elaborate or further explain.

The Missouri Department of Transportation seems to support the city's decision. We obtained a copy of MODOT's report on this airport. It sites 12 points of concern, ranging from cracks in the pavement on the runway to lights and signs that aren't up to code.

The Dickersons claim those problems are easily fixed, but under the lease agreement they proposed, the city would be responsible for the airport runway, the lights and the indicator signs, and taxpayers would pay for those repairs.

"We don't get why it wasn't embraced," Sarah Dickerson said. "Everybody else we've talked to outside city management and city council has embraced it."

"If the city isn't interested in helping themselves, then why do we want to invest more money into a city that isn't willing to help itself?" Jim Dickerson asked.

FOX 4 filed several requests with the Excelsior Springs city council for their input into this story. Our only reply came via email from Excelsior Springs Mayor Pro Tem Chad Taylor, who confirmed that the future of the airport will be discussed at a city council meeting in January.

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