FAA, historic preservation office appeal to Sioux City Council to remove historic chapel at airport

Sioux City Journal has reported the Sioux City Council has been asked by the city, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office to remove a World War II chapel and airmen´s housing project located on Sioux Gateway Airport land, the Journal said.

The small white chapel anchors the entrance to Sioux Gateway Airport and is a remnant of Sioux City´s World War II air base. The air base was built in 1942 as a B-17 bomber training facility.

According to city documents, two parcels of airport land containing the chapel and residential housing are developed with land uses that are not compatible with the operations of the airport and are not within current city zoning regulation. The parcels, which total about 24 acres, are located on the western side of Interstate 29, about 2,500 feet east of Runway 17-35 centerline.

The city proposes removing the chapel and residential housing and selling the two parcels of partially developed airport property. A nonprofit group would take ownership of the chapel, after relocating it off airport property. The nonprofit group would use the chapel as a World War II memorial and make it available for public event rentals. However, this nonprofit group has not been fully formed and approved and would need to raise funds to take over ownership of the chapel.

If the nonprofit group cannot take ownership of the chapel, the city would sell the chapel to an outside party who would be responsible for removal fees, according to city documents. The terms of the sale would need to ensure the preservation of the chapel according to the Secretary of the Interior´s standards for the treatment of historic properties. If those requirements cannot be met, a buyer could demolish the chapel for salvage materials. If either of these alternatives cannot be executed in a timely manner, the city would move forward with demolition and site cleanup.

According to the documents, the nonprofit group interested in the chapel is not financially able to accept ownership and maintenance of the airmen´s housing project. The city could implement the same three alternatives for the airmen´s housing project as laid out for the chapel.