Light Rain and Breezy


City to determine short-term fate of tower

By Corene Brisendine

City officials have hammered out a contract for commissioners to consider Tuesday night that would apply to staffing of the airport control tower for the remainder of the federal fiscal year.

The FAA announced last week it would no longer provide funding to staff the airport control tower, one of 149 cut nationally.  That cutoff will take effect May 5, meaning the city must decide soon whether to take over the cost of staffing the tower or close it down.

City administrators have negotiated a temporary contract with Midwest Air Traffic Control Service for the five months remaining on the annual contract between the FAA and Midwest ATC. Taking over the contract through the end of the fiscal year will cost the city about $162,000. City officials will suggest tapping general fund reserves, which has $750,000 in it. They will also recommend exploring long-term options including partnering with Fort Riley and other regional “stake holders,” to keep the tower open beyond that date.

Another item on the agenda is an amendment to Noble Hospitality for an extension of the development agreement for the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in the south end redevelopment. Colin Noble has until May 13 to close on Lot 2 in the south end redevelopment or face penalties in the amount of $166,666. If construction does not begin by Aug. 13, Noble would owe the city an additional $150,000 a year. City administrators recommend that commissioners grant a six-month extension to Noble Hospitality, postponing application of the penalties for six months.

Also on the general agenda, the economic development application for Continental Mills is up for a second consideration. Commissioners unanimously approved the first reading last week. The incentive package includes $100,000 forgivable loan, and an additional grant up to $119,000 tied directly to job creation, the company to receive an additionalamount for every job above the initial 12 up to a maximum of 68 jobs created within the next two years.

Mayor Loren Pepperd will also present five proclamations at Tuesday’s meeting. Those include Barbershop Harmony Week, April 7-13; National Service Recognition Day, April 9; Fair Housing Month in April; Poetry Month in April; and Poppy Day, May 4.

Since this is the first meeting of the month, citizens will also be given an opportunity to address the Commission on any issues not related to the items on the agenda. Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Commission Room of City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. The meeting will also be televised on local Cable Channel 3.

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