FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2003
Alderman Calls for City Council Hearings on Meigs
Chicago Alderman Joe Moore introduces resolution calling for hearings;
Cites safety decline since closure
Chicago, IL - At today's Chicago City Council meeting, Council member Joe
Moore (D, 49th Ward) introduced a resolution calling for public hearings into
the adverse effects of closing Meigs Field and consideration of reopening the
Alderman Moore, a noted supporter of Chicago parks, cited numerous reports of
safety problems since the closure of Meigs, and said events since the closure
"sound like a disaster waiting to happen." Ald. Moore mentioned the
near mid-air collision that was prevented by the Meigs control tower days after
the runway closure (a control tower that has since also been closed,) increased
runway incursions at O'Hare airport, and controller reports of overwork at
According to Moore, he is "calling on the City Council to fully consider
this midnight decision and shine the full light of day on it before lives are
The call comes at an urgent point in time. The initial demolition that put
the Meigs runway out of action is only estimated to cost $500,000 to repair.
However, the City of Chicago has announced plans to demolish the entire runway,
starting as early as late July or August. Replacing the entire runway could cost
millions of dollars.
"We salute Alderman Moore's courage and leadership in introducing this
measure," said Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field,
"and we call on the rest of the City Council to support him in this. A
threat to air safety is too important to go unchallenged."
Alderman Moore also noted the opportunities available in preserving Meigs,
referring to the plan recently introduced by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association, which would provide millions in FAA funds to the Park District if
Meigs is reopened. "Our neighborhoods need those funds," said Moore,
citing the fact that the Chicago Park District's 2003 budget slashed spending on
operations and programs by over $25 million.
The AOPA plan estimates the value of the airport at $41 million, a value that
could be received by the Park District for merely returning the airport to the
function it has had for nearly 55 years. Park District estimates range even
higher, one estimate as high as $700 million, (although the Friends of Meigs
Field suspect this figure may be artificially inflated.) The FAA will pay up to
90% of the cost of acquiring land for airport purposes, meaning that-if its
estimates are accurate-the Park District could receive as much as $630 million
to reopen Meigs.
Alderman Moore's resolution also calls for public consideration of
"suitable alternatives that might prove advantageous to preserve Meigs
Field." Last month, the Friends of Meigs Field entered a formal request to
the Chicago Park District-on behalf of numerous aviation organizations-to
consider an alternative vision plan being developed to reinvent Meigs Field with
park, education, and recreational elements in addition to its airport function.
To date, no formal reply has been received to this request.
"We are very excited by Alderman Moore's call for hearings," said
Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field. "Government by
midnight edict is bad government. The people deserve to hear the full truth in
the light of day, and have their elected representatives decide the future of
Meigs Field was bulldozed in the middle of the night in late March, without
warning or notice to the public, the FAA, the Governor of Illinois, the Chicago
City Council, or the Chicago Park District board. Since the closure, numerous
news reports have indicated safety problems, ranging from near mid-air
collisions to dangerous runway incursions threatening airliners at other area
airports. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has called for the
reopening of Meigs Field, saying that-since the closure-"the level of
safety [in Chicago airspace] has diminished below an acceptable level."
The Friends of Meigs Field have pointed out that practically all of the
features and activities for a park slated to replace Meigs could be incorporated
into the airport itself, or nearby on the lakefront. "Ping pong, fishing
tournaments, public bathrooms, Meigs can do all that and so much more,"
said Goodstein. "Name me one other park in the city where kids can get
their first touch of the sky, absolutely free."
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