Pella Chronicle

Local News

April 19, 2013

Dissatisfaction abounds at airport meeting


Pella —

Local match, estimated to be 10 percent, or between $5-6 million, will be split evenly between the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella. These costs will cover buildings and other "ground up" projects associated with building a new airport. Shrock and Nardini believe much of these costs can be paid from proceeds of selling the existing airports.

Net, ongoing expenses for the airport will be split 60-40 between Pella and Oskaloosa. Pella has more representation on the SCRAA and will thus pay 60 percent.

"Since Pella has more, they will pay more operating expenses," Oskaloosa City Manager Mike Shrock said.

Site selection is underway. A new site is being proposed to provide for a longer runway, to accommodate precision landing. This is especially important during inclement weather and has been a major concern for the current Pella Airport.

A Category "C" Aircraft is one capable of an approach speed of 140 knots, around 79 feet in wingspan and carries 5-6 passengers. The Pella Airport, a Category B-2, does not minimum safety standards to accommodate this type of aircraft. The aircraft of this size that currently utilizes the airport is doing so only through special permission with the FAA.

Upgrading the current Pella Airport is not feasible, Nardini added. He provided a graphic Thursday night to show what it would take to meet Category "C" requirements and the obstructions in the way of making that a reality. A "clear zone" is not possible around the existing airport.

"Highway 163 is right in that clear zone," Nardini said. "We're dealing with a very constrained site at the Pella Airport."

The necessity for the new airport was spelled out Thursday night. Such an airport is needed to supprt local business and industry. Major employers in the area use Category "C" aircraft, which also make it easier for them to travel to the east and west coasts for business.

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