The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 1, 2013

Site A farmers speak out on airport

OSKALOOSA — A group of local farmers who will be affected by the proposed regional airport gathered for a press conference Wednesday afternoon to make their voice heard before the Nov. 5 Oskaloosa city election.

Seven farmers gathered in a machine shed on 220th Street to give their views on the regional airport at a press conference with local news media. Their farms lie within Site A — the primary location of study for the proposed airport project. The regional airport is a contentious issue in the Nov. 5 election.

“I maybe have to give up my home — it depends on what happens,” said Betty Barnard.

Florence Rempe said there are several century farms in the area.

Rempe said the project would take her century-farm land but leave her the century-farm house.

“It's our heritage,” she said. “They don't need to take good Iowa farmland.”

“We are a century farm too,” John De Rooi said. “I see no need for a regional airport.”

John Bandstra said his farm would be in the flight path of the airport. He also said the airport would close a section of 220th Street — one of the busiest farm roads.

Bert Bandstra said he is supporting his neighbors on the issue and agreed that the closure of 220th Street would aversely impact farmers in the area. It would “disrupt our neighborhood,” he said.

Eminent Domain has created a controversy with the airport project. Federal government regulations require that Eminent Domain be an option for land acquisition. The farmers said they are against the use of Eminent Domain to acquire land for the project.

Bert Bandstra said Eminent Domain would hamper negotiations on land prices and it would be “forceful — close to stealing.”

“I call it theft,” De Rooi said.

The farmers agreed that they are not against progress — they say a better process would be to expand the current Oskaloosa and Pella airports.

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