OSKALOOSA — The South Central Regional Airport Agency approved a recommendation from Snyder & Associates Thursday to designate Site A as the preferred location for a new regional airport and Site B as the secondary site for consideration.
The SCRAA is looking for 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. Site A is located near Highway 163 between Independence and Highland avenues. Site B is located south of Highway 163 and east of Eaton Avenue.
Before the SCRAA made its vote, the members heard comments from the audience that had gathered at the George Daily Auditorium. There were people who spoke in favor and against the proposed regional airport.
Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group Executive Director Jon Sullivan spoke in favor of the regional airport.
“It's time to show our support,” he said. The regional airport would be “a huge economic development generator.”
Beth Danowsky of the Mahaska Community Development Group said the organization supports the development of the regional airport. It's “a necessary piece of infrastructure,” she said.
Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt said there is pressure from both the state and federal levels for communities to work on a regional level for intermodal infrastructure such as roads, rail and airports. Local leaders need to “think strategically as well” about projects such as a new airport and Highway 63 improvements.