Pella Chronicle

October 18, 2013

Writer questions need for airport

The Chronicle

Pella — To the editor,

Is a new airport the best use of money??
The proposed regional airport has become a hot topic this past year. We have all hear many reasons why or why not it's a good or bad idea. These ideas range we need it?'s a safety issue??.....millions of $$ for 100 feet??.....Pella Corp and Vermeers need it??.....can we work with an existing class "C"??.....taxes go up??.....eminent domain taking private property??.....etc. etc. the list goes on and on.
As the debates rage on, one thing kept coming to mind for me. The City folk want the airport out of town. The Country folk say don't cover farm ground. I keep can we work together?? 
I wrestled with the idea of working together and I started talking to many farmers around the area. I asked them if there was a way to work with Pella and compromise. The Golden Rule kept coming to mind...Treat others the way you want to be treated. So, I asked each farmer what they would do, or, what they would give up. After many conversations, one common theme came to the top. 
Farmers are generally known as hard workers. Especially the farmers in the Pella, Osky area. Many that I have talked to have their own heavy equipment (bulldozers,track hoes,earth movers). The idea they have come up with is a great idea, and it shows that the farmers are not against progress, nor are they against Pella. 
FYI...... Pella airport, right now, has a 5,400 foot runway. To be a class "C" regulated airport, they need to have a 5,500 foot runway. They do not need to have a crosswind runway to be a class "C". Pella has 243.5 acres of ground at the airport with another 170 acres that is for sale that lays right against the 243.5 acres. That makes a total of 413 acres at this time...With still another possible 112 acres to buy that border the airport also. Final tally....525 acres. More than enough room to add 100 feet on the existing airport runway. 
Pella says this won't work because you need "cushion" feet at both ends of the runway....for a 5,500 foot class "C", there is enough "cushion". I will agree if you want to expand to a 6,500 or 7,000 foot runway, then you are land locked by two highways.
With this said, farmers in Marion and Mahaska counties have volunteered their time and equipment to move all the dirt work that would need to be done. Pella can hire the crew supervisor to make sure it is done to specs. We have some of the best heavy equipment operators in the state. Those of us that do not own or operate equipment have volunteered to pay for and lay the concrete. No charge to the City. 
City of Pella would then be in charge of moving any buildings, at very little cost to the City, (possibly less than one million). 
This way, Pella gets what they want.....a class "C".....Zero travel time.....100 percent control.....very little cost to tax payers. Farmers get what they want.....No taking  private property.....soil to feed the world.
I know this can't be this simple, but it gives us a place to start. Farmers spending hundreds of thousands of their own money to make Pella a better place to live, and Pella realizing they need to work with land owners to protect Gods natural resource in Iowa. I think we all understand just how much Pella Corp. and Vermeer and all other progressive business means to our area, but let’s not forget how much of our local economy is kept strong by our roots.
This is a public offer to work together. I will be sending this to City Council to discuss.
God Bless.
Tim Van Maanen