The group Taxpayers Against Regional Airport held an informational meeting at George Daily Auditorium Thursday 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.
A group of TARA members conducted a PowerPoint presentation to the audience gathered at the George Daily Auditorium. TARA member Tim Van Maanen was the primary speaker.
During his presentation, Van Maanen cited figures from Pella Mayor Jim Mueller that there are between 300 and 500 Category C flights — out of a total of 17,000 flights — at the Pella airport annually. That's 3 percent of flights that are Category C, he added.
Van Maanen said that federal grant funding for the airport is “up to 90 percent” of costs and contends that the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa would have to carry the cost of the airport until completion, when the FAA would reimburse the communities.
Van Maanen said TARA members spoke to Sioux County officials about their airport effort, a model for the proposed regional airport. He said Sioux County officials spent their entire budget on land acquisition and had to start eminent domain procedures, but in the end did not use that power.