MAHASKA COUNTY,Iowa – Initial plans for the proposed South Central Regional Airport near Oskaloosa have been sent to the Federal Aviation Administration for review. The proposed $35 million project is to be built north of Oskaloosa next to Highway 163.
The idea for an additional airport has been around for about ten years. It came about after several Pella-based companies realized the Pella Airport was too small for some aircraft they wanted to land there.
The new facility would be paid with 90 percent matching funds by the Federal Government. The cities of Pella and Oskaloosa would then close their airports and sell the land. The two cities would build a terminal at the new airport.
“What we’re trying to do here is replace two airports with one for not only what we need now, but I’m the future ,” said Jim Hansen of the South Central Regional Airport Authority.
Some land owners in the area have opposed the project for taking long time family farms from owners. Nine owners have land which would be used for the airport.
“They have a 28E Agreement and eminent domain , I don’t believe that’s the way to go about it,” said John De Rooi whose family farm has been around since 1898.
Land owner Betty Barnard said she is not opposed to aviation. “My son and my husband were pilots, and I’ve flown some myself,” she said. “I think my farm is much more important than an airport.”
Jim Hansen said he hopes eminent domain will not be needed to reach agreement with land owners. An environmental study of the site should be completed next spring, then negotiations to buy the land could proceed.