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      Ottumwa City Council hears airport master plan

      At the beginning of the year, the Ottumwa City Council identified the expansion and development of Ottumwa Regional Airport as one of their top priorities.

      At Monday night's meeting, the council heard a presentation of the airport master plan. The airport currently has the ninth longest runway in the state. The city is looking at expanding it by anywhere from 7,200 feet to 8,300 feet. The master plan presented five alternatives with varying amounts of cost and reconstruction.

      Funding for the project will be 90% federal and 10% local.

      Whichever expansion option the council ultimately chooses will not affect day-to-day operations of the airport and any kind of expansion will open up opportunities for economic development.

      "We're looking at the possibility, if we got a customs office here, that you could have non-stop flights to Europe to South America, where a lot of business is done from Ottumwa," said Joe Helfenberger, Ottumwa City Administrator.

      The two options that seem the most viable are a 7,200-foot expansion with no reconstruction of the current runway or a 7,200-foot expansion with minor reconstruction. The former option is the least costly but might require future extensions. Any extension would make the runway the fifth-longest in Iowa.

      Next, a pavement condition study will be conducted. That study will help to better indicate which expansion option will be best for the airport.