KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Council has approved a new resolution Thursday to resume negotiations with Edgemoor, the new KCI developer initially approved for the project before the council voted last week to end those negotiations.
Only one council member — Lee Barnes Jr. — voted against the substitute resolution that was approved earlier Thursday by the city’s airport committee.
Within moments of starting a crucial airport committee meeting Thursday, members went behind closed doors to talk with lawyers.
An hour later, city council member Barnes Jr. finally got a chance to tell the committee why he feels Edgemoor isn’t the right fit. His motion to ditch the company was based on what he called weak community benefits from minority business hiring to workforce investment and support for local charitable programs.
“I for one will not be bullied or pressured into making a decision I don’t agree with and that I don’t agree is in the best interest of the city,” Barnes Jr. said.
Instead of acting on his motion to start fresh, committee members collaborated on an alternative. The proposal calls for a framework to keep talking with Edgemoor, rather than starting the process all over with another company.
“It’s almost like getting a divorce without seeking counseling, and I’m no lawyer but I can tell you I’ve certainly got a lot of common sense and I think we’ve got to do what is our due diligence as we move forward and that is the path we’ve outlined in the committee substitute,” City Council member Jermaine Reed said.
The substitute resolution was agreed upon unanimously be the committee, and Thursday afternoon was approved by all city council members but Barnes Jr.
The resolution requests Edgemoor spell out specific financial terms on paying for the airport project, details on the community benefits including percentage of minority workforce and funding for local projects, and any other items city council members specifically identify that should be included in the deal.
“So that there will be a very clear understanding of what the issues are and the goal posts won’t move again,” KC Mayor Sly James said.
James believes all that will provide more certainty and clarity for everyone involved.
“It provides certainty for our negotiators to negotiate with Edgemoor. It provides a path forward to negotiate those items to a conclusion or an impasse, whichever,” he said.
And the end goal remains constant.
“Our interest, as is the aviation department and all those working with us, is to have an airport that is an exceptional airport, not just for Kansas City, but for the people of western Missouri and Kansas and all the people who fly through it regularly,” council member Quinton Lucas said.
City Council members will have four chances to add items to the wish list in upcoming meetings. Outside lawyers retained by the city will undertake the negotiations. The goal is to have a new deal ready by the end of January.