Airport advisory board member calls airport name change into question

WICHITA, Kansas – The city council is moving forward with a name change for Wichita’s airport, but the vice chairman of the Airport Advisory Board is questioning the process.

KSN found out the city’s name change policy is the same whether the project will cost hundreds, or even hundreds of thousands of your taxpayer dollars. The process to rename the Mid-Continent airport to the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is underway. But it’s a process John Hennessey, Jr. disputes.

“I believe they went about the process wrong and the process should have been held where you at least had public input because this is a major project to take on by just the city council members,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy says the Airport Advisory Board, where he sits as vice chairman, wasn’t on board with the change and did not agree with the naming committee’s decision. The Airport Advisory Board voted 13-0 against the name change.

Hennessey is also is concerned. that the next step in the approval process isn’t transparent. That’s because it’s up to the Airport Authority to sign off on the change. And who makes up the airport authority? The 7-member city council, that already voted 5 to 2 to change the name.

We began investigating Hennessey’s claims and Mayor Brewer refereed us upstairs to the legal department. They gave us a copy of “Policy 13” which explains the process for changing the name of any city-owned property.

The legal department did not want to speak with us on camera, offering this written response:

“The City’s process to rename the airport was triggered when citizens presented a petition to the council to change the name. The City Council followed a well-established policy regarding the renaming of public facilities and that included the formation of an Airport Naming Advisory Committee to make a recommendation to the Council. The Council received the recommendation of the Airport Naming Advisory Committee and on Tuesday voted to approve changing the name.

At the same time, City staff was instructed to implement the council action to change the name of the airport.  A resolution that formally makes the change in the name will be presented to the City Council (acting as the Wichita Airport Authority) in a future meeting. A funding source related to the renaming will be identified and approved by the Council later,” wrote City Attorney

In other words, the process to change the name of any city owned property is the same, regardless of the price tag.

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