Last week when the airlines presented their recommendation to Council, I said we need a new airport terminal because we need to continue to grow. I still think that’s true.
We need a comprehensive change in our transportation system – and that includes our airport terminal. And buses. And rail. But I’m not willing to do this if we can’t grow together as a city. We’ve been conducting outreach to the residents, business and civic community and it’s clear that our City isn’t ready to move forward with the KCI conversation right now.
In fact, less than 40% actually think moving forward with a new terminal paid for by the airlines is a good idea. I arrived at my conclusion that a new terminal was needed based on facts and data. And as we have considered how to get this job done, the facts and data are clear – the time is not right for our City to do this. I think we are best served by pausing this conversation and focusing on our City’s other priorities.
We need a plan to address our infrastructure needs. We need to lower our crime rates. We need more quality education seats in our classrooms. And we must continue to make government more efficient while planning for the future.
We can walk, talk and chew gum at the same – but we must do it as a unified city. When I ran for Mayor I promised to do what is right for the whole city and I meant it – even if it means pulling back on an idea I personally feel strongly about.
So, what happens now with the airport since we’ve come that far?
The team that negotiated with the airlines completed their work when the recommendation was made last week. So, the negotiations have ended for now. The City will extend the current MOU with the airlines that outlines their leases with the Aviation Department. Voters will not be asked to approve anything related to the airport in 2016. Although I still feel a new terminal is inevitable, it’s clear that time is not now.
And I’m going to continue to focus on the things that got me this job I love so much – making government work better, adding good-paying jobs to our City, equipping every student a world-class education, and cutting down on the crime that still takes too many lives.
I want our residents to know that I listen to them, I care about their perspective and their opinion. It matters. And because we are listening at City Hall, we’ll press pause on this conversation.