Key figure who oversaw Kansas City’s $1.5 billion air terminal project is retiring

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The city official who oversaw design and construction of Kansas City’s new $1.5 billion airport terminal has announced his retirement from city government.

Aviation Director Pat Klein’s last day is May 31, he said in a letter to City Manager Brian Platt that was copied to Mayor Quinton Lucas and members of the city council.

“I have enjoyed working for the City of Kansas City, Missouri for the last 25+ years and I sincerely appreciate the opportunities afforded me through this organization,” the letter said. “The last 7 years as Aviation Director have been the most challenging and rewarding of my career.”

Klein, 55, said in a phone interview Wednesday that no job is waiting for him in the private sector. His only plan is to take it easy for awhile.

“I haven’t literally looked for anything,” he said.

Pat Klein
Pat Klein

Fresh out of graduate school — he earned his master’s of public administration at the University of Oklahoma and bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University — Klein was hired in 1997 by Ed Wolf, Kansas City’s public works director at the time, to be a capital improvement projects analyst. Klein moved up through the ranks and was promoted to assistant city manager in 2012 by then-City Manager Troy Schulte.

His tasks were varied, he said. For a time he was the city’s interim spokesman, notably fielding questions from the media after a natural gas leak caused an explosion at JJ’s restaurant near the Plaza in 2013 that killed two people. But the airport became his main focus. He was Schulte’s liaison to the aviation department for several years before being named director.

In a news release on Wednesday, Lucas praised Klein for his role in making the dream of a new KCI become reality.

“At a time of great conflict about the path forward for KCI, Pat moved the debate from where there would be a new terminal to how we could deliver a world-class new facility for Kansas City and the people of Missouri and Kansas,” Lucas said.

No announcement has been made on who will replace him on an interim or full-time basis.