Milwaukee airport brass considers food, security changes

Posted at 9:50 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 22:50:39-05

General Mitchell International Airport could be getting a makeover.

Milwaukee County leaders are requesting proposals for two major upgrades that could cost tens of millions of dollars. Their focus is on consolidating the security checkpoints and adding local flavor to the concessions.

Enter the terminal, and all sorts of food and shopping options line the way to your concourse.

"I'm always in a rush," said Doumbia Aboubacar of Milwaukee.

While Aboubacar prefers a quick slice of pizza, others are after a little more.

“When you travel you want to get the taste of Wisconsin,” said McKenna Hulslander of Montana. “You want to get what that kind of atmosphere is about."

Currently the concessions throughout the terminal are comprised of mainly national chains.

“There’s nothing wrong with what we have today, but we decided at that time that we needed to look at something new,” airport director Izzy Bonilla said.

Bonilla and the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office are looking for a sense of place at Milwaukee’s airport.
They’re asking vendors to fill the terminal with more local restaurants and stores.

"For them to know they're in Milwaukee, they're in Wisconsin," said Bonilla.

Bonilla said another potential change could be consolidating three security checkpoints into one.

“The idea is to build this central security checkpoint,” he said. Once you go through the security checkpoint, that’s when you hit your restaurants your retail business and everything else.”

Bonilla believes the plan would improve security by having law enforcement at a central location.

"We're not downsizing the amount of screeners and we're definitely not downsizing the amount of equipment, we're basically consolidating that equipment," he said.

But this idea comes with mixed reviews.

"It's going to be a real mess," said Aboubacar.

Aboubacar thinks one checkpoint would lead to longer lines at peak hours of the day.

"Basically I'm not a patient person so I'd rather keep three checkpoints than one," he said.

"Just as long as I get to my gate on time I'm good," added Hulslander.

The deadline for vendor proposals is May 5th. If passed, Bonilla tells TODAY’S TMJ4 that construction would come in phases, potentially beginning this fall.