|Update on the Regional Airport|
|Friday, 08 February 2013 12:21|
A familiar issue in Mahaska County came up in this election. Doland and Rielly disagree on aspects of plans for a regional airport for Oskaloosa and Pella. That project has been on the table for several years and three proposed locations were chosen recently.
"I don't know that in a personality contest that I would have won. There's just more people that know Tom Rielly, but I think because it was an issues driven campaign that it availed me to the votes of many that maybe I wouldn't have been able to get" says Mark Doland. "I believe that the issue of the airport, we have to look at it and see what stage it's at I understand that there's been a commission and I know that we'd have to sit down and do a separate interview to get all the information out there but I will be looking into it and find out what stage of the process that's at and we'll see what we're going to do from there", Doland says.
We decided to find out where the airport project stands and what the next steps in the process will be. Aaron Riggs has more.
The project advanced last March when Pella, Oskaloosa and Mahaska County formally agreed to create a board that would acquire land, build, and operate a regional airport. They called it the South Central Regional Airport Agency. The project picked up steam last October when the agency approved plans to conduct studies for the construction of a regional airport. The engineering firm Snyder and Associates presented the plan.
It includes a timeline for the work - first selecting location sites for the airport. Then creating a master plan for one of those sites, followed by doing an environmental assessment of the site, possibly by 2015.
"Once that's complete, that's when we start talking to property owners about acquiring their property. So this process has a long way to go before we even get to property owner discussions of acquiring land."
So far, the project is in the site selection phase. On January 4th the regional airport board met in Pella where Snyder and Associates presented three possible airport sites that best matched criteria for where an airport should go. The board then voted to submit those three potential sites to the Federal Aviation Administration for more review.
"They'll identify if there's any issues with the airspace associated with the three potential sites and then give those comments back to the airport board. We haven't heard anything back yet, my estimation would probably be at least a month before we hear anything back."
Once that happens, the board will rank every approved site per a number of factors.
"Things like road disconnects or impact on property owners or anything like that, the board can then give a point value to those and then ideally what will happen is those three sites there'll be a clear choice of which one will be the most likely for a regional airport, so, again we're talking about multiple meetings before that even happens"
So the process of constructing a regional airport in Mahaska County is moving forward. There are variables in the process. No one knows, for example, what the FAA might say along the way, but right now, the airport is in development.