The Pella Regional airport by Kathy Connolly
The Pella Regional Airport project has been fighting an uphill battle for sometime now. Its main issue being the farmers who will be forced to move due to the space it needs to be built. In turn, the small downside of farmers being forced to move is causing the vital reasons the airport should be built to be overlooked. This airport is necessary to keeping some of the corporations in business. For instance, Pella Corp and Vermeer need to be able to fly potential business partners into town. If these clients decide to move their business to other companies elsewhere due to easier access and safer flights, our companies could be severely damaged. To compete in the global market, it is necessary to have this updated service. The project is also thought to bring in more tourism and business to town, helping downtown stores and restaurants. However, the biggest reason to build the airport is safety. The current airport is a Category B, meaning that it is much smaller than what is necessary for the Category C flights needed to be run through it. Currently, Category C flights are being run but only by a blanket waiver which could be pulled away if any type of accident were to occur. Pilots say that the trip into our airport is the most dangerous part of their flights. The upgrade to a Category C airport is vital to keep these flights coming in.
Many ask why the airport could not be upgraded in its current location? Unfortunately, there is not enough surrounding area to enlarge it due to housing developments and the highway. The cost of upgrading the current airport is significantly higher than the cost to create a joint airport with Oskaloosa. The estimate of this project is between $24-30 million. 90% of that cost is paid for by the FAA and the other 10% comes from the sales of the current airports. So unlike the many signs along the highway would say, this project is not raising taxes. Plus, very few number of farms will be moved for this project. As this is difficult and unfortunate for them, these five to six families will be greatly compensated for their relocation. This project is expected to be fully completed and the new airport opened by 2021.