Letter to the editor:
Business interests in Oskaloosa are promoting the construction of a new airport that nobody needs. It is an airport that will cost millions in taxpayer money to construct and millions more to operate.
Why build a new airport when the present Oskaloosa airport handles only a few flights per day? Furthermore, even if the present airport were not available, Ottumwa, which is only 20-25 minutes driving time from Oskaloosa, offers an underutilized airport with long runways.
Promoters of a new airport are talking up the idea of a joint Oskaloosa-Pella airport to be located in the western part of Mahaska County. While the new airport would not be as convenient to Pella businesses as the present Pella airport, it would free up valuable land adjacent to Bos Landen for development and move the noise and traffic associated with any airport into Mahaska County. It would also displace several family farms in Western Mahaska County.
Business interests in Pella argue that they need a new airport with longer runways and that because the present airport is landlocked, longer runways there are not possible. Why they need longer runways is not clear, but it is clear that longer runways in another underutilized airport are available in Newton, only 35 minutes by car from Pella.
So, what will the average citizen and small business owner in Oskaloosa get from a new airport? The short answer is nothing except the probability of significantly higher property taxes and that is not going to help any of us. If one wants to argue that a new airport will help spur recruitment of new employers, look again. One of the things that any new employer will look at is the property tax burden they will be responsible for paying and present rates are enough to deter any serious development interest in Oskaloosa.
When I have to fly on business, I drive myself to Des Moines and fly in a coach seat on scheduled airlines. Maybe if other business people in Oskaloosa and Pella did the same, we could save the cost of operating local airports altogether!
Vote YES on Ballot Measure A to prevent public officials from sharing or merging the control of the Oskaloosa Airport with any other entity.
Letter to the editor: