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Mon, Apr 11, 2005

Kansas Businessman Nixes Airpark Plans

Final Blow: Concerns About Crowded Airspace

It wasn't the paperwork that killed developer Dan Claassen's plans for an airport and industrial park near Wichita. It was concerns about the airspace, according to published reports. Now, Claassen says, "What's next? I lick my wounds."

Claassen has been trying for months to obtain the necessary permits for his general aviation airport near the Kansas Coliseum in Park City. But the FAA grounded the whole idea because of concerns that traffic in the pattern of the new field would conflict with traffic from both Mid-Continent and Jabara Airports.

The Wichita Business Journal reports Claassen's original idea to create another airport that would serve as a refueling point for aircraft headed from coast-to-coast was turned down not once, but twice.

"The potential for adverse impact on the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic in this congested area originates from the proposed location," according to an FAA letter to Claassen, quoted by the Business Journal. The letter was dated April 1st. "Therefore, the Air Traffic Airspace Branch has determined that the proposed Coliseum Airpark would be objectionable."

Claassen could develop the industrial park alone. But without an adjoining airpark, he said, the whole proposal falls apart.

"The deal is dead," Claassen told the Journal. "There's no way to proceed at this point without their blessing."

"The ultimate concern of ours is the safety of the public," says Jack Whitson, Park City's director of planning and economic development. "If the FAA says it can't safely be done, we certainly don't want to be a contributor to something that could be unsafe or potentially cause a problem."

"I had never dealt with a small city," Claassen told the paper. "I didn't expect them to be extremely professional. And they were. So to have the professionalism and support mixed together was refreshing."

FMI: www.parkcityks.com

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