Update: City Council approves airport plans and park improvements

3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 12:48:00 AM CST November 18, 2019 in News
By: Ethan Stein and Rosemond Crown, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council on Monday night authorized the method for constructing the Columbia Regional Airport along with park improvements at Magnolia Falls Park.   

The council will held a public hearing and then authorization of a "Design/Build" method as the construction project delivery method. The "Design/Build" method means the same company will design and build the airport. The project, which would be completed in 2022 and costs around $35 million according to the council memo, has been discussed since 2016.  

The council memo said only three construction project delivery methods were discussed. Those options were

  • Design/Build
  • Design/Bid/Build
  • Construction Manager at Risk

Council members have expressed support for the design-build method compared to the two other methods because they believe it would reduce costs and speed up the construction process.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp, who spoke with KOMU 8 News on Sunday, said he also believes the design-build method is a way to improve design for the new terminal. He said it combines the process so the same person who designs the building can build it.

"In a design-build method, we kind of put out everything together at a single price," Trapp said.

Monday night's authorization would begin phase 1, which will cost the city $20 million, according to the council memo. Future project phases are projected to cost around $15 Million.

The city will pay phase 1 mostly using a $14.2 million 20-year Special Obligation Bond, which is backed by a 1% tax increase on lodging taxes at motels and hotels and revenue from passenger facility charges passed by voters in August 2016. The rest will come from a loan from the city’s designated loan fund and a transportation sales tax.

The city says a new terminal is needed because of increased security regulations, passenger growth and limited ADA accessibility. The airport currently uses two former Columbia Public School (CPS) trailers for secure gate areas. Another separate trailer is used for baggage claim. There is also only one bathroom in the secure area to accommodate up to 177 people.

Trapp said the new terminal will have multiple additions to enhance passenger experience and functionality.

“We are going to add multiple gates," he said. "There will be a larger area for TSA,  there will be better accessibility, the restroom capacity is going to be addressed. We would also add a restaurant. “

Frequent traveler Mark Landhuis said he flies to Columbia from California to visit his family. He said he supports the new additions and he would use the airport a lot more if those changes were made.

"Right now, there is no food service -- that would help," Landhuis said. "I would like a little bit bigger boarding areas. It gets a little bit cramped when you are getting ready to board and you have a full plane."

Kailey Williams said she likes the airport, but would like to see some additions in the new terminal, too.

"I get here early a lot of the times and I’m just sitting and there’s not much to do," she said. "I think a restaurant and having more area to move around would be super cool, especially if my parents come in. We always have to go somewhere to eat.”

ECONOMIC IMPACT

The city's convention and visitor's bureau said it believes the change will boost the profile of the city and attract more business.

"Whenever you have someone flying in, you know, deplaning here in Columbia, they're going to be spending the nights in our hotels, dining in our restaurants, shopping in our stores and all that means a huge economic impact on our community," said Megan McConachie, Strategic
Communications Manager for the convention and visitors bureau.

The bureau said the  airport has seen an increase in people flying into the airport.

Since 2010, the number of people flying out of the airport has more than doubled.

The bureau anticipates it will be able to secure bigger contracts with conventions, sporting events, etc. if the city makes improvements to the airport.

"When we research conventions they typically have a lengthy list of what they want," McConachie said. "And a lot of times they want to be within a certain distance from a major metropolitan airport."

The building of a new terminal is expected to bring more flights into and out of the airport. Although, the city has announced a partnership with any additional airline.

Currently, the airport has two airlines operating from there. It also has one gate and one terminal.

The city council is also expected to vote on plans to improve Magnolia Falls Park.

The park would add a small shelter, playground, 0.6 mile gravel trail, small parking lot, and ADA walkway along with other miscellaneous park improvements. The total project budget is $125,000 and is one of the projects identified and funded by the 2015 Park Sales Tax, according to a council memo.

City council will also potentially vote on changes on requirements to sidewalk cafes. The changes would remove the requirement of a permit and application fee worth $100 for sidewalk cafes, which was passed by the city earlier this year. The city will still require owners to file plans with the city showing 60 inches of clear pathway on the sidewalk.

De'Carlon Seewood, who was the city manager for the City of Ferguson, Missouri, will be sworn in as deputy city manager at Monday's council meeting. Seewood's annual salary will be $140,000 and includes the benefits package for directors.

Mayor Brian Treece praised the selection in a press release.

"The City of Columbia will benefit from Mr. Seewood's professional qualifications, key insight and unique experience," Treece said. "I congratulate City Manager Glascock for building a team that can serve the best interests of our City and community."

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