In recent times though, I've been avoiding the topic. I no longer live in Illinois, and have had little to do with the proposed airport for the past several years. However, I still maintain friendships with people there who remain deeply affected.
I admit that it surprises me that hearing about a resurgence in activity about the proposed Peotone Airport is still jarring. When I lived in Illinois, I was an active participant in the study process. My position--that an airport wasn't needed 40 miles south of the City of Chicago, didn't fit among the farm fields of eastern Will County, and is a project that has never stood on its own merit--has been well known and widely documented.
While there have been developments, they are virtually meaningless rhetoric from a governor facing a tough re-election, if and until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) actually approves the project for construction. That hasn't happened yet!
|Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Controlling the message! That is how Illinois leaders in Springfield do things. In their zeal to control what the public perceives, elected officials rarely pay attention to public input. In the case of the Peotone Airport, they have long stifled public input whenever possible.
I am reminded of this practice by recent activity in the Chicago Tribune. An editorial was written to send the message that the next governor of Illinois is on notice. Forty-seven years is long enough to keep a project on the back burner. Whether the next governor is Pat Quinn or Bruce Rauner, it is time to put up or shut up. Either get on with building it or kill it once and for all. This message too is a repeated incantation spoken throughout the years. It is difficult though for anything to be new about this project since it has been around so long.
In response to the Chicago Tribune, my long-time friend Bob Heuer, reiterates the paper's call for a decision by the next Illinois governor. He also drives home my point about local input when he says, "The Springfield bureaucracy's heavy-handed tactics combines deep pockets, fuzzy math and an arrogant disregard for on-the-ground reality." He goes on to point out that a resolution passed by local governments and organizations to study reasonable alternatives to the airport has gone virtually unnoticed.
I concur with Heuer's call to the next Governor of Illinois to stop simply taking IDOT's word for it that thousands of jobs and economic potential lies just around the corner. IDOT should be scrutinized just like a con artist waiting for his next victim.
Heuer has given permission to print his letter. It follows:
Making an informed decision about an airport at Peotone
In “Knock-knock. It’s Peotone again,” (Aug. 26) the Tribune editorial board encourages the winner of November’s gubernatorial election to either go full throttle” on building a new airport in the eastern Will County countryside “or ground the issue once and for all.”
Our next governor can be sure of one thing: He won’t be able to make an informed decision based on analysis from the Illinois Department of Transportation. In recent decades, IDOT has spent tens of millions of dollars to engineer a consensus for the so-called “third” commercial airport in a tri-state region that isn’t fully utilizing the five we already have.
The Springfield bureaucracy’s heavy-handed tactics combines deep pockets, fuzzy math and an arrogant disregard for on-the-ground reality.
One example is a 2005 resolution adopted by a half dozen units of local government, the Will County Farm Bureau, and community group Shut This Airport Nightmare Down. Nine years ago, IDOT ignored the Peotone community's reasonable demand for an “independent study” of all viable alternatives.
IDOT never wavers from its agenda, which includes pummeling anybody obstructing Springfield's goal of seizing all of the land in the so-called airport “footprint.” Next month, IDOT will choreograph a Peotone forum which the Tribune recognizes as Gov. Quinn's attempt to “create a pre-election sense of inevitability for the airport development, as he has tried to do for the Illiana” toll road.
Our next governor owes the people of Illinois what the people of eastern Will County asked for in 2005. Is it too much to expect our governor to demand a legitimate analysis of “airport-related costs and benefits based on various scenarios, including an assumption that a Peotone airport would attract no daily commercial passenger service for many years, if ever?”