Illinois Legislature votes to take over Meigs Airport
AOPA urges city-state cooperation
The Illinois Legislature has approved a state takeover of Chicago’s lakeside Merrill C. Meigs Field airport. The legislation, passed December 4, calls for the state to take control June 1, 1997, preventing Chicago from turning Northerly Island from an airport into a park.
“As a badly needed reliever for overcrowded O’Hare and Midway airports, Meigs is a vital component of the national transportation system,” said Phil Boyer, president of the 340,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “Illinois lawmakers, representing the interests of the entire state, have reaffirmed Meigs’ importance.”
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, however, has reaffirmed his intention to fight the legislature in the courts and elsewhere. Chicago newspapers report that Daley forces have hinted the city may take such steps as blocking the roads to Meigs Field.
“We urge the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois to start good-faith negotiations,” said Boyer. “Chicago and Illinois citizens would be ill-served by a continued legal battle, and we think a compromise is possible.”
Boyer noted that the respected Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has also called for compromise. The Civic Committee is developing a proposal that could achieve both goals of preserving the airport and expanding park area on and around Northerly Island.
AOPA has been campaigning vigorously to keep Meigs open and operating. In November, Phil Boyer, as president of AOPA Legislative Action, sent a letter to each member of the Illinois Legislature asking for legislation to preserve the airport. Included with the letter was a color photo of the now-closed airport with the central Chicago business district in the immediate background, reinforcing the message that Meigs is important to the economy of Illinois and surrounding states.
At the same time, Boyer asked all 13,000 AOPA members in Illinois to write their state representatives in support of legislation to take over Meigs Field. In addition, AOPA, along with six other plaintiffs and the state of Illinois, have filed suits to prevent Chicago from destroying the airport. While Chicago closed Meigs October 1, a court-ordered stay is preventing the city from demolishing the airport and proceeding with plans to build a nature park.
December 5, 1996