Showing posts with label Will County Illinois. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Will County Illinois. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pro, Anti-Peotone Airport forces plan separate events

Residents of eastern Will County are planning a celebration of their rural life, agriculture, and Mother Earth on the day before the designated Earth Day, on April 21.

It will be at the site of the proposed Peotone Airport. Their celebration will include a 'stop the airport rally' and a parade.

Coincidentally, that just so happens to be the same day that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is planning what local residents deem a "fake groundbreaking," on the site of what Jackson hopes will one day be the Abraham Lincoln National Airport.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will County Illinois has its own version of the "Bridge to Nowhere"

Fund request includes local version of 'Bridge to Nowhere'

As part of its $26 million federal request for roads, infrastructure, and safety projects, in advance of President Barack Obama's potential stimulus bill, Will County included a request for funding for planning for a proposed Peotone airport.

The government throwing money at this ill-conceived, unlikely-to-be-completed project might be described as Will County's own version of the 'Bridge to Nowhere.'

Perhaps the project might be more aptly named, 'Flight to Nowhere.'

While there are some very worthwhile and even perhaps critical projects included in the funding request, funds for the 'Flight to Nowhere' is not among them. And perhaps the project should enjoy the same fate as the bridge.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress nixed the $398 million 'Bridge to Nowhere'. It would have served only 50 residents. The bridge was to connect Ketchikan, Alaska to the sparsely populated Gravina Island.
The project, which caused ample embarrassment to the U.S. Congress, was considered the epitome of wasteful spending.

It became the proverbial poster child for congressional earmarks, those eleventh-hour additions tacked-on to federal spending bills by individual congressmen, seeking perks for their districts, usually as a means for getting re-elected. Ever since earmarks became a household word, they have been scrutinized, even though some of those too, represented worthwhile projects. The problem is that many were not.

As is customary, Will County sends its annual request for funding to the federal government. And almost habitually, the request includes funding for the 'Flight to Nowhere.'

Not all habits are good. And this may be one case where change is needed.

With the exception of some political maneuvering, there has been no forward movement on 'Flight to Nowhere' since yet another new map was submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration last March. Who can count all the maps that have been submitted over the past 20 years that the project has been in its perpetual planning phase?

No maps, no matter how skillfully drawn; tax dollars from every level of government; or lofty rhetoric from boosters; has been able to accomplish what a successful airport requires — a federal declaration of need, airlines who will use it, and passengers who want it.

According to a Will County press release, the portion of the $26 million request includes nearly half a million dollars for airport planning. Is continued planning for this boondoggle really the best use of $500,000 of Will County funds?
The Will County release claims that funds would develop a multi-jurisdictional land-use plan that would ensure regional benefits of growth while minimizing any adverse impacts.

This habitual language in Will County's request fails to consider that legislation to establish a development district for which a multi-jurisdictional land use plan would consider, does not exist. It languishes in the rules committee of the Illinois House.

The release states that the development plan was devised by Will County along with the Villages of Beecher, Crete, Peotone, Monee, and University Park.

How long ago was that plan written? How many changes have taken place in the affected communities that have not been incorporated into the plan? Is Will County even aware that these five communities that once held regular meetings may no longer share common concerns?

The planning funds include a 6-township multi-jurisdictional land-use plan. Is that even feasible? It wasn't according to former Transportation Secretary Timothy Martin, who said the ultimate build-out of an airport larger than O'Hare would not happen in his lifetime. Even a scaled-down version looks like an impossibility.
The press release says the federally-funded plan would take into account all types of developments based on the future growth of the communities and airport.

Too bad this funding request failed to consider reality.

  • There is no airport project;
  • There is no enabling legislation for a development district;
  • The five towns that once worked together no longer speak to one another;
  • Will County, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of a recession;
  • And, air travel is lower than it has been for 15 years, due to the negative economy.
So, is requesting another $500,000 to plan for an unneeded project that has failed to advance from the drawing board in its 20-year existence, a wise use of funds?
Perhaps Will County should realize its perennial request for funding is sorely outdated and represents nothing more than a 'Flight to Nowhere.'
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Van Guilders acquitted in trespassing case

Roc Van Guilder and his son Lee were acquitted Friday of misdemeanor criminal trespassing and criminal damage to property in connection with a Dec. 1, 2006 incident.

On that day, and because of the weather, heavy equipment was banned from driving in certain areas of the rain-soaked township roads. So Baugh’s property was used instead, as the heavy equipment was ordered to make its way toward its destination – the first of a dozen or more houses the state purchased and prepared for demolition. The destruction of houses is meant to aid in the development of the proposed Peotone airport, though the project has yet to gain official approval by the FAA. The legal issue became all about who ordered the bulldozers to cross the property.

According to courtroom observers, Will County Associate Judge Marilee Viola felt that the state did not prove its case against the two contractors, believing they were not the ones to give the order to drive a piece of 80,000 lb. equipment across the farm field belonging to Mark and Lynn Baugh.

At the time of the incident, the Van Guilders were employed by Hanson Professional Services, Inc., the company hired by the elder Van Guilder’s former boss – ex-Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown – who upon retiring, also went to work for Hanson.

Van Guilder has a 20-year history with the airport project, having previously worked as the airport’s project manager for the state’s consultant, TAMS, which has been taken over by Earth-Tech.

Mark Baugh’s first reaction was disbelief, but not surprise. He is very disappointed in the ruling and said this may not be the end of it.

“I didn’t know what information the judge did and didn’t have,” Baugh said. Because he was a witness he wasn’t in the courtroom for all of the testimony, but added that the judge should have had all the information to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

“The fact that they didn’t have permission to cross my property should have been enough,” Baugh said. He added, “They (the Van Guilders) deceived the operators by telling them to ‘head west’ knowing there was private property to cross.

“It is far easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact, hoping they wouldn’t get caught, than to seek permission to use my property,” Baugh said. “What they did was wrong.”

Still, he is appreciative that Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow decided to prosecute the case. And, he is grateful for the efforts of those who investigated and prosecuted it.

Will County Board Member John Anderson was involved in this case, to the extent that he urged Glasgow to get involved.

“Today, I learned that Judge Viola acquitted the Van Guilders. I am disappointed by her decision and vehemently disagree with her conclusions, but I do respect her ruling,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that it was his understanding that Judge Viola believed there was insufficient notice that trespassing was not permitted.

“However, there is a ‘no trespassing sign’ in Mark Baugh's front yard,” Anderson pointed out. “Additionally, Lee Van Guilder himself testified that he walked up to the front door to ask permission to move the machinery through the property. Van Guilder would not have gone to ask permission if he really believed that the machine would be allowed to cross the property.”

Despite his disagreement with the judge’s decision, Anderson believes the Van Guilder's prosecution is still a win for the Baugh's and for residents living in the area of the proposed airport footprint.

“The mere fact that the Van Guilders were prosecuted sends a clear message that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated, and the rights of residents living in the footprint area command respect,” Anderson said, admitting that he has received dozens of complaints about trespassing by the Van Guilders and employees of IDOT or Hanson.

Anderson is also grateful to Glasgow. He said when he asked Glasgow to accompany him to the Baugh's property to view the damage, Glasgow drove across the county in a snow storm. He is also grateful to the prosecutors who worked so hard on the case.
Enhanced by Zemanta