The proposed establishment of a regional airport along Highway 163 for the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa is a crisis for those of us living in and near Leighton. Placing an airport in this rural area will have the potential to change where and how most of us live, work, and serve. The results of this will lead to roads being moved, homes being condemned, and farm soil being covered with concrete. The building of an airport here was not a choice that we made or were given the choice to vote on, but one that has been forced upon us by a group that we have no say in electing since the SCRAA was appointed by the city councils of Oskaloosa and Pella.
Based on the information given so far, the building of a regional airport in this area is one that I cannot support based on the fact that the FAA is making over $600 million dollars budget cuts tor 2013, with many-facilities already in operation taking the cuts-
There are Category C airports available within 30 minutes of both communities that could be utilized if safety is a priority. Based on the figures given at the public meeting on April 18, approximately 3% of the flights occurring at the Pella airport are Category C. I do not see the rationale for spending limited taxpayer money for such a small percentage. There has been some alluding to an implied economic benefit, but I have not seen data or numbers to support this in the long or short term. It has been stated on a few occasions that a cost vs. benefit analysis is not necessary since this is a “safety project”. If you want us to really understand the benefits, the citizens need to see the numbers. As the daughter of a farmhand and living in a rural farming area for much of my life, I have learned to appreciate the work required to maintain and sustain an agricultural lifestyle. There is an understanding that good crop soil is limited and not an easily reclaimable resource. This is a resource that if claimed for the development of a regional airport would not be an easily replaced source of income for the businessmen who go by the name of farmer.
Fourteen years ago, my husband and I had a dream of becoming property owners and made an old farmhouse our home. Many of you have probably traveled by our home along Highway 163 and watched that progress take place. It is part of being an American that we make our dreams become a reality through hard work and persistence. Today I see the reality of the fragility of the “American Dream”. I am realizing for many of my neighbors, this is not the first time they have had to deal with having property they have owned being claimed by a government entity. It is sad to realize the reality of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is limited in the framework of our democracy. This reality is not a pleasant one to face, but I am thankful for the support and care of my neighbors.