Some business owners in Osage City are keeping their fingers crossed that council members vote “yes” on a multimillion dollar airport expansion Tuesday night.
Voters approved the money almost 25 years ago but the city council could decide not to go through with the project.
Kansas First News Reporter Nicolette Schleisman explains why residents are heating up over this issue.
“I can’t even guess why they would not want it, because it’s progress,” said Catheryn Houghton.
Houghton served on the Osage City Council from 1994 to 2004. Six city councils approved this expansion project of the city’s airport, including the ones she served on. But the current council, for unknown reasons, has now been fighting the expansion since April.
“I would think that if we had a better airport, we’re getting a better road into town, all of that would add to our perks that we have for getting industries or businesses into town,” said Houghton.
The project would be funded 90 percent by the Federal Aviation Administration with 4.1 million dollars and the city would pay the other 10 percent, 200 thousand dollars.
Supporters of the project say the expansion of the airport is necessary for the city to grow.
“The runway is about 25 hundred feet long and about 45 feet wide,” says Osage City Resident, Mike Handly, it’s a little intimidating.”
If the updates do not come through, the two businesses that call the airport home could leave.
“It’s a real shame that this has all become an emotionally charged issue, says Handly, because it should be pretty straightforward.”
As of 2009, the FAA has put in more, nearly six hundred thousand dollars of grant money to update the airport. The city, has put in nearly 41 thousand dollars. If they voted to stop, the grant money would stop.
“I hope and still have faith and I pray that the city council will go forward and accept and go forward with this expansion and modernization,” says Houghton.
If the council votes “no” on the expansion project, the city could have to pay back pre-project costs to the FAA, which could be more than 90 thousand dollars.