Not everyone is convinced that a regional airport for Pella and Oskaloosa in Mahaska County is a good idea. Many concerned residents turned out for a public meeting on the issue last night in Oskaloosa, including Carrie Blommers of Leighton who lives on one of the roads that would be partially closed for the airport. Blommers says it’s a matter of using the land for industrial or agriculture purposes. She says the farmers need the land. The regional airport committee has entered the second phase of their feasibility study with the plan now for a 55-hundred foot airport runway that would require about 443 acres of land. The airport would require 168 acres of that land, with the rest used to grow crops. Regional airport committee member, Joe Crookham, says the public meeting let them hear a lot of the public’s concerns. He says the meeting will help them do a better job of evaluating the information. He says it’s something that has to be worked through and hopefully the committee can provide the Oskaloosa and Pella city councils good information to make the decision on moving forward. Crookham says he understands where the landowners are coming from, and says they have every right to be concerned. He says it’s unfortunate to the extent that which some people are concerned that they’ll have to pay for the airport, because he says it’s not local tax dollars that’ll be spent. The Oskaloosa and Pella city councils will make the final decision on moving forward. If both councils approve the plan, officials say it would take five to ten years to develop the airport and have it ready for operation.
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