Burns & McDonnell representatives meet with City Council about K - KCTV5

Burns & McDonnell representatives meet with City Council about KCI

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Representatives with Burns & McDonnell presented their Memorandum of Understanding to the City Council. (KCTV) Representatives with Burns & McDonnell presented their Memorandum of Understanding to the City Council. (KCTV)

On Thursday, representatives with Burns & McDonnell presented their memorandum of understanding to the City Council and fielded questions.

The questions covered various topics: design, oversight, protections for the city, and how quickly everything seemed to come together.

After the meeting, we know more about the anticipated economic impact and have a better idea of what the timeline will be.

The representatives with Burns & McDonnell said that they believe the new terminal will bring in around $2 billion in direct and indirect economic impact -- all on their dime.

They also said that they could see around 18,000 jobs added overall because of the new terminal.

They said it’s something airlines had been telling them repeatedly that they want.

Another big question that came up was what this will ultimately look like. Not just with regard to design, but with regard to the makeup of the workers. Especially if the city and voters decide to move forward with Burns & McDonnell and not give other firms a chance in the deal.

Councilmember Alissia Canady said she wants to ensure there are protections in place for diversity, which is something Burns & McDonnell’s CEO Ray Kowalik says is a priority.

“This is the best opportunity for this city to get that kind of inclusion because that’s what we do and what we’ve shown and demonstrated that,” Kowalik said. “If you went to an out-of-town answer to this, there would be no commitment to the community like we have.”

According to Kowalik, due to their private financing, they say they’ll be able to get the airport finished faster. According to their timeline, it would be done in 2022.

While there aren’t any spelled out penalties for if they do not reach that deadline, officials from the company point out that they stand to lose millions if it takes longer than their anticipated end date.

One of the big topics that continued to come up has been transparency.

Many have been critical of how this entire proposal came together, seemingly behind closed doors.

“I think we can all agree KC is not a flyover town,” Kowalik said.

“I do think that you guys have done a good job of putting together the concept of what this should look like,” Canady said, “however the process of how this has come about has not yielded the level of transparency that I would have liked to have seen.”=

According Kowalik, this all came together in the last few weeks. They approached the city earlier this year and were told to flesh out their concept, but worked on it rather than going to other councilmembers.

However, for weeks now, representatives with the aviation department have been meeting in the community, getting public input.

Now some question if that input will even mean anything.

Kowalik said it will and, while this memorandum discusses the money side, there’s still work to be done on how it will look.

“We’re not after the fact on anything right now,” he said. “In fact, we’re just starting the process and we’re going to get public input into the design, the layout of this airport.”

Bringing in outside counsel to look over contracts was suggested so that the city doesn’t rush and make a decision without protecting their best interests. The city has moved forward with that decision.

Burns and McDonnell say they completely understand and are on board with that arrangement.

You can tell them what you think on May 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the KCI Marriott.

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