Friday, August 16, 2013

City buys land near airport, scraps plan to extend runway: Marshalltown Municipal (KMIW), Iowa

The Marshalltown City Council approved the purchase of 4.4 acres of land bordering the Marshalltown Municipal Airport Monday night. Other, larger parcels were considered but the council chose not to purchase those, scuttling plans to extend the airport runway to the northwest.

The council discussed the issue in closed session and then voted to approve the purchase in open session. City officials were initially unwilling to disclose the parcel's location, price or purpose, but Thursday City Attorney Curt Ward provided the T-R the details of the transaction. He said the council chose to mothball the runway project "mostly because we're going to be biting off a new fire station and a new police station and we'll probably have our plate full for a while."

The land was purchased for $69,520 from the Jeanette A Long Trust.

Ward said the city has no immediate plans to use the land.

"It fills in an area where the runway is now. It gives us more ownership and control of the existing footprint," Ward said.

Airport manager Steve Valbracht said he was disappointed in the council's decision and said Marshalltown could lose out on corporate jet traffic. The airport's current runway is 5,000 feet; the ideal length for jets is 5,500 and extending the runway would allow Marshalltown to keep the traffic it currently has.

"It would have brought it up to the standards of a community of our size," Valbracht said.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently allows corporate jets to land in Marshalltown but Valbracht fears that could change.

"As these airplanes get bigger the standards keep changing," he said.

The airport is safe, Valbracht assures, however a company he declined to identify had been using the Marshalltown Airport but after upgrading to a larger plane it no longer does "because we're 500 feet too short," he said.

"To put it in relatable terms, it's like having a gravel road going into town as opposed to a four-lane highway," Valbracht said.

The airport is located a few miles north of the city near the intersection of HWY 14 and 170th Street.