Pella Chronicle

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

November 1, 2013

Site A farmers speak out on airport

(Continued)

OSKALOOSA —

Homer Hasselman said the Oskaloosa airport has about 500 acres of farmland at that site that could be used to expand the runway. Besides, the current Oskaloosa airport has features such as a maintenance shop and cross-wind runway already on site. Jim Van Zomeren agreed that the current Oskaloosa airport could be expanded.

Barnard said she is not opposed to airports. In fact, she and her husband used to own an airplane. However, Barnard said the Pella's airport has room to expand in the city. Some houses there would have to be removed.

Rempe said area farmers gave up land for Highway 163 as it would benefit many people. However, the regional airport would benefit only “a tiny number of people.”

“We're not shutting them off from an airport. There are good roads to connect businesses to the Ottumwa or Newton airports.

The farmers believe they do not have a voice in the discussion about the airport project.

Bert Bandstra said the farmers feel frustrated because they don't have a voice in the matter and they couldn't let their thoughts be known in a public way.

De Rooi said there was not answers or feed back from local government officials about airport questions.

“That leaves a sour taste,” he said.

John Banstra said the situation would be easier to deal with if there was a farmer representative on the South Central Regional Airport Agency board.

Van Zomeren said that after speaking to several people about the issue, “education of people could have been better.”

Van Zomeren said that if federal government funding does not come through for one reason or another, the local taxpayers, both city and county, would have to foot the bills.

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