Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Community leaders invite Gov. Pat Quinn to Eastern Will County

Current headlines scream "economic decline." The airline industry reports projected losses at $4.7 billion this year. They face losses greater than those experienced after Sept. 11, 2001. Fewer people and less cargo are filling Chicago airport terminals.

So why then would Gov. Patrick Quinn choose to pour another $100 million into buying land for a new airport in eastern Will County, near Peotone? The state has already spent millions of Illinois tax dollars on public relations work, coercing local governments into diluting their opposition and spreading misinformation, all in the name of a planning process to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

Local governments in eastern Will County have signed a resolution calling for the state to cease all land acquisition and threats of eminent domain until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues a final record of decision on the necessity and viability of the proposed Peotone airport. There is a regional consensus that land should not be purchased for a project that has not received federal approval, as was done with O'Hare expansion.

 "We demand no less than what was afforded O'Hare neighbors by the City of Chicago," said Brian Cann Supervisor of Will Township. "Those of us who live in eastern Will County demand to know why the state persists in this folly," Cann said. "For decades, our lives have been disrupted. We have undergone harassment and intimidation by the state and its agents. Nearly every governor since Richard Ogilvie in 1968 has chattered about building a new airport south of Chicago. But it hasn't happened because it just isn't a good idea."

"Enough is enough. It is time for Gov. Pat Quinn to finally Shut This Airport Nightmare Down," says George Ochsenfeld, president of STAND, a citizen’s group of over 5000 members. Ochsenfeld and Cann want Quinn to visit eastern Will County — to see why building another airport is a bad idea. They would like to show Quinn that an airport just doesn't fit into eastern Will County's rural landscape.

The truth is there are far better alternatives and less costly solutions. Use what already exists before building what would amount to a sixth (not third) Chicago area airport. Studies have never examined the efficiency of using a combination of O'Hare and Midway, with the region's three under-used supplemental airports that already exist — Gary/Chicago, Chicago/Rockford, and Mitchell in Milwaukee. Another alternative to a new airport that hasn't been studied was recently articulated by President Barack Obama — high speed rail — which would offer a competitive alternative to flying.