The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

July 17, 2013

TARA holds regional airport meeting in Pella

The group Taxpayers Against Regional Airport held an informational meeting at the Pella Community Center Wednesday evening to give their views on the regional airport.

The South Central Regional Airport Agency has chosen a site for a joint Pella-Oskaloosa airport that is capable of handling Category C aircraft. A Category C airport has a 5,500-foot runway with room to expand up to 7,000 feet. The airport would have the ability to provide precision approach landings, which the current Pella airport is incapable of doing. A Category C aircraft using the facility has a 79 foot wingspan and a passenger capacity of six to 12 people.

The proposed joint Oskaloosa-Pella regional airport is a sensitive issue for many, especially landowners and farmers in the Leighton area.

In late May, the SCRAA approved Site A, which is located near Highway 163 between Independence and Highland avenues, as the primary study location. Site B, the secondary study site, is located south of Highway 163 and east of Eaton Avenue. The proposed regional airport could cost between $24 million and $30 million.

A group of TARA members conducted a PowerPoint presentation to the audience.

The Federal Aviation Administration would provide grant money to cover up to 90 percent of the cost of the land and runway. TARA member Tim Van Maanen contends that the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa would have to cover the costs of construction until the project is complete, then the FAA would reimburse the communities. Van Maanen wants to know where the money will come from to finance the project until completion.

TARA member Rob Hammann spoke about eminent domain, a power the SCRAA has available to acquire land. During the April SCRAA public information meeting, Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock Jr. said the SCRAA board would follow federal procedures, and land condemnation/eminent domain would be “a last resort.”

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