Supervisors strike down proposal for helipad on Melrose


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Requests to build a helipad near Melrose Avenue didn’t take off at Thursday morning’s Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The denial came after Ned Fry, a facilities engineer for the Iowa National Guard, asked the supervisors for approval to build a helipad on county land across the road from the National Guard Armory Readiness Center.

“I think that area is a completely inappropriate place for a helipad,” Supervisor Janelle Rettig said. “If there’s an emergency, you’re going to put a big red ‘X’ in the middle of a cornfield and land there; it’s been done before.”

Fry said the helicopter landing pad would be located near Melrose Avenue and used only for emergency situations and perhaps VIP purposes a few times a year.

The concrete surface would be 150-by-150 feet, surrounded by a 30- to 40-foot green zone, funded by the state and federal government, Fry said.

But the supervisors agreed there are better places that a helipad could be built, and, ultimately advised National Guard representatives to consider using the helipad at the Iowa City Airport.

“[Melrose Avenue] is basically all residential,” Supervisor Sally Stutsman said. “The people who chose to live there never dreamt a Chinook would land in their backyards.”

Airport operations specialist Mike Tharp agreed.

“[The airport is] the most beneficial place to have it,” he said.

Stutsman said construction of a helipad on Melrose could also be concerning to people who live in the area, adding infrequent landings could catch people off guard.

National Guard officials said the helipad could be used for occasions when very important people visit the area.

But Rettig refuted that, saying important people have come through Iowa City in the past and they didn’t use a helipad to land them safely and secretively. “We have a perfectly good airport, and I wish you would use it,” she said.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the proposed place for the helipad could cause unnecessary disturbances to a nearby mental-health center.

Dave Umland, an engineer for the National Guard, entered the discussion late and repeated what Fry said initially about the helipad being necessary for emergency situations.

Umland said they would probably look further into building the helipad on the National Guard property, they just wanted to explore all of their options first.

“You never know unless you ask,” Fry said.

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.