by Rick Poppitz

Special to The Gardner News

At the Aug. 23 meeting, Johnson County Airport Commission members had long discussion on the process of working with insurance companies for reimbursement of storm damage to hangars. Also considered were rail rate increases, tenant lease amendments and extensions, and the cost of a radar system.

Insurance and hangar repairs

Aaron Otto, executive director, said that he had signed off on repairs for Oscar and Romeo hangars at Olathe Executive Airport.

“That timeline, the design time working with Burns and McDonnell on the repairs, was 40 days. So that timeline is now underway, hopefully we’ll have those designs by the end of September,” said Otto.

The design plans will then be incorporated into a larger bid package that will be put out for bid by the county.

Otto also talked about the Papa T-Hangar which has been deemed too expensive to repair and will be rebuilt. Design for that is about two weeks along and should be done around the end of October.

Final decision was yet to be made on how to rebuild Tango and Sierra T-Hangars. JCAC was considering one new “big box” hangar to replace the two damaged hangars.

Later, in discussion items, commission directed staff to nix the “big box” idea. Brad Weisenburger, JCAC chairman, thanked Otto for the research but said the evidence didn’t compel pursuing it at this time.

“The communication I’ve received from the tenants have been pretty overwhelming for rebuilding T-Hangars in their current configuration,” said Weisenburger. There was consensus.

Establishing proof of damage figures and other negotiations with insurance companies are ongoing. Hangar patrons and commission members are frustrated about how long the process is taking.

“This is not a very big claim for it to take this long to get to where we are, and it’s kind of befuddling to several of us. Because we have customers out there that rightfully are very unhappy this has not progressed,” said Lee Harris, JCAC vice chairman. “We need to know as a commission, what can we do to support you and your team to get this resolved quicker?”

Harris was told that insurance adjusters and county reps should be “on the same page” in two weeks or so.

Harris was told this was an expenses-based claim. The total claim amount won’t be known until repairs are over, and the intent is to keep this claim open until the last bill is received.

Harris was troubled with the situation of not knowing how much insurance would reimburse until after expense of repair is incurred.

Staff reply was, “the policy says they will reimburse us for all reasonable and necessary expenses.”

“How do you avoid having a fight clear to the end?” asked Harris.

The staff member replied, “You keep them as close to you as you can in making your decisions.”

“I’m uncomfortable with that. Very uncomfortable,” Harris said.

The staff member said this was the way the county had handled claims in the past. He said that the insurance company would love to establish a figure now, but it was beneficial to JCAC to keep the claim open, as agreement on a lump sum at this point could fall short.

He said insurance companies were continuing to approve expenditures along the way as they progress.

Questions and discussion from several members followed and commission seemed to be reassured after the discussion.

“This is helpful to understand the process. Thank you,” said Harris

Rail Rate Schedule

Commission considered increases to JCAC’s rail rate schedule. Otto gave a presentation, sharing charts and graphs showing proposed rates through 2019.

“It does it in a way that phases in some of these increases, versus four years of zeroes and then a big jump,” said Otto.

Weisenburger asked commission if they wanted to accept the rate recommendation as a whole, or for just one year.

Lee Harris, vice chairman, made a motion to accept the whole recommendation through 2019, which was seconded and passed with none opposed.

Economic Development Report

Greg Martinette, Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation president, told the commission that SWJCEDC had identified the sites in the industrial park that have true rail access, and they were working that into a virtual tour aimed at interested developers.

“It’s a great tool. You’ll see a demonstration of it at the next meeting,” said Martinette.

Martinette talked about a contract with Gardner-Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, revised marketing materials, and he mentioned projects in the works.

“We have significant projects – hotel, retail, commercial, industrial – in every single part of our service territory, throughout Gardner, throughout New Century,” he said

Martinette said he couldn’t name businesses while land was being negotiated, but assured the commission that “the activity was like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Briefly:

– Larry Peet, deputy director, said that he had been asked at a previous JCAC meeting to look into what it would cost to install radar in the control tower.

“I researched that, and we’re looking at about a $300,000 to $500,000 expenditure to install radar here,” said Peet.

– Commission approved an amendment to the lease with Foote Farms Ag at New Century.

– Commission approved an agreement with Water7 for potential emergency operations at JCAC. This was described as a written agreement to replace verbal agreements.

– Commission approved an extension of the Option To Lease Land with Lineage Logistics, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. The original agreement dated Dec. 7, 2016 was previously extended to Sept. 2017 and this extension goes to Jan. 31, 2018.