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Wichita city council approves airport name change

Wichita city council approves airport name change

By George Lawson. CREATED Mar 4, 2014

The Wichita city council voted Tuesday to approve the renaming of Mid-Continent Airport to the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.   The vote was taken after a hour of discussion that included comments from a dozen Wichita residents on the issue.

Some speakers raised concerns about the cost, and some also felt that the name Mid-Continent was appropriate.   Airport advisory board member Dave Bayouth argued that the board had voted unanimously against the name change, and he said the Eisenhower name would not do anything for the city's status as an air capital. 

Former city council member Sue Schlapp argued that this is an opportunity, and renaming the airport will make a statement to the country about Wichita.   Other speakers who supported the name change said it would enhance the image of Wichita, with a new terminal that will open next year.

Council member Jeff Blubaugh said the council should take the issue to the district advisory boards for more input.  Council member Jeff Longwell also supported a recommendation from the special renaming committee that a study be conducted by Wichita State University on the costs of the renaming.   Council member Lavonta Williams said she wanted more information on the costs before the renaming goes forward.  She said she didn't want to take money from other areas of the budget to pay the estimated $140,000 cost that the city might incur.   City manager Robert Layton said it looked like the city's costs would come from the general fund budget for 2015 and 2016.

The council vote was 5 to 2, with Blubaugh and Longwell voting no, to move ahead with the name change and direct city staff to begin the process of putting it into effect.

The name change idea began with a petition drive launched last year by morning show team Jan Harrison and Phil Thompson of Journal Broadcast Group station KFXJ, 104.5 The Fox.   Harrison told reporters after the council vote that it's a victory for the people of Wichita and the people of Kansas.    She said the new terminal needed a new name, and it's a good starting point to say that Wichita is open for business.

The name change isn't expected to become official until later this year, after the city has sent the appropriate documents to the Federal Aviation Administration.