Skip to comments.Meigs Field closed~~Crews dig up runway in middle of the night
Posted on 03/31/2003 7:02:03 PM PST by cherry_bomb88
March 31, 2003 Meigs Field is now out of service after the city cut into its runway. According to the city and the FAA, Mayor Daley has the authority to close Meigs, but many want to know why he chose to do it now-and in the middle of the night.
Very few people knew what was about to happen when the heavy equipment rolled into Meigs Field Sunday night at about 11:30. The FAA wasn't even informed until 2 a.m. Monday, well after the hired crews had started carving four X's into Meigs runway.
"I still can't believe it happened. It's pretty upsetting, to say the least," said Dr. George Shehl, a cardiologist from West Virginia in town for a convention. Nobody told him the runway was being destroyed. Shehl's plane is one of 16 now sitting at an airport that no longer has a working runway.
"The closure at Meigs reduces the risk and perception of risk at Meigs. It makes Chicago a safer city and makes us feel like a safer city," said Mayor Richard Daley.
The mayor today said his decision to close Meigs was based on security considerations even though there have been no specific threats, and as recently as ten days ago, he said there were no plans to close Meigs. He acknowledged that he wants to turn Meigs into a park, but offered no plan or timetable, and he defended his decision to move under cover of darkness, repeatedly calling it appropriate.
"I am not willing to wait for a tragedy as some have asked me to do, to happen before making a very difficult and tough decision," said Daley.
"What happened today was vandalism. And if mayor daley was a student in his schools he thinks he is improving, he would be seeing the principal," said Rachel Goodstein, friends of Meigs Field.
The group Friends of Meigs and other general aviation pilots are infuriated by what they call the Mayor's storm trooper tactics in destroying what they believe is an irreplaceable asset.
"This is a question of taking away a city asset that people, that the people of Chicago have invested tens of millions of dollars in and throwing it away," said Steve Whitney, Friends of Meigs.
The FAA says it's "concerned" by the mayor's action that it will put more pressure on O'Hare and Midway airports. The Air Traffic Controllers union calls it a stealth maneuver that's a major step backwards for Chicago and the epitome of arrogance. George Shehl and 15 others want their planes back.
"This is completely unprecedented in the history of general aviation in this country. This was a last possible thing I thought would happen. Now I'm concerned about my airplane," said Shehl.
The plan is to allow those 16 planes to take off using the 3,000 foot long taxiway here at Meigs. While that is possible, but it is subject to FAA approval and that could come in the next couple days. The Friends of Meigs say that they are exploring legal possibilities, but when you look at a pile of asphalt it makes that extremely difficult.
Before the bulldozers: the long debate over Meigs Field Andy Shaw
The mayor's unusual move at Meigs comes after years of political debate over the airport on the lake. His decision to shut down the airport now was apparently born of frustration that Federal Aviation Administration officials ignored his safety concerns for months before temporarily making downtown Chicago a "no-fly zone" two weeks ago-- even though New York, Washington D.C., and Disney theme parks have been off-limits to flyovers since 9-11.
"I think just the whole debate about the flight restrictions, temporary flight restriction and how hard it was to get as compared to Mickey and Minnie getting it," said Mayor Richard Daley.
As for the controversial decision to shut down the lakefront airstrip late last night without an announcement, Daley wanted to render Meigs unusable before anyone could file lawsuit to stop him.
"We made the decision and did it for public safety," said Daley.
"I think it is ironic we are fighting a war in Iraq to fight a man who does whatever he wants to do in his country and we have a mayor who is doing the same thing," said Barbara Whitney, Friends of Meigs.
"I support the security part but doing it in such a way, I don't support that," said Albert Su, Chicago resident.
Daley's tactics may offend some people, but he got nearly 80 percent of the vote in last month's election and most city residents don't care about Meigs.
"Does it matter to a Chicagoan? Not really, I never used it," said Sarah Moore.
The Blagojevich administration is solidly behind the mayor. Even though Daley didn't tell the governor or Lt. Governor Pat Quinn about it until this morning.
"With respect to Mayor Daley, he has good common sense and I think we can place a great deal of reliance on his good judgment," said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn
"This is a pure and simple land grab and he is hiding behind homeland security to try to make it happen," said Steve Whitney, Friends of Meigs.
Daley defends decision to close Meigs Statement made from City Hall
As most of you know by now, we have closed Meigs field. We have done this to protect the millions of people who live, work, and visit our downtown Chicago in these very uncertain times. Nine days ago, as you know, we announced that the FAA and the Homeland Security Department had approved our requests for a temporary flight restriction over the greater downtown area. We are grateful to those agencies for approving the restriction, but it's simply not enough to insure an appropriate level of safety and security to the people of Chicago.
First of all, a temporary flight restriction is just that-temporary. It could be lifted at any time without the approval of the mayor, the city council, the people of Chicago.
More important, it does not address the problem that occurs every day as the aircraft approaches Meigs Field within a few hundred yards and only a few seconds flight time of our tallest buildings. And not just our tallest buildings, but hundreds of thousands of people not only at the Taste of Chicago and the Grant Park concerts, the Museum Park, Navy Pier, Water Filtration Plant, will be using the beaches and visiting our museums.
Those airplanes appear to be going to Meigs, but within sudden turn, they could cause a terrible tragedy downtown on our crowded parks. That scares me. It scares people who live, who work, and visit our downtown. And who use our parks and work every day here in the city of Chicago. They should not have to wonder whether the airplane that appears to be headed for Meigs might have other intentions.
There is very little the city can do to reduce the risk of an attack by an aircraft. We have no control over airplanes in the air. We had to fight for months just to get the temporary flight restriction, months and years as well. But we can control whether we have a city airport that's a few seconds away from the heaviest concentration of people in buildings in North America.
The closure of Meigs reduces the risk and perception of risk at Meigs. It makes Chicago a safer city and makes us feel like a safer city.
Why did we act so quickly? Because the fears exist right now. To do this any other way would have been needlessly contentious and jeopardize public safety, prolonged anxiety among Chicagoans for months and year.
The groups that want to keep Meigs open are certain to be unhappy with the decision. I understand the concern, but public safety must come first and foremost here in the city of Chicago. The private aircraft that have been using Meigs will find plenty of space at other regional airports and there are. Yes, it will be less convenient for them, but the safety of the entire city had to take precedent over the wishes of a relative handful of private pilots and businesspeople.
As for 16 small planes currently parked at Meigs, we're awaiting word from FAA as to whether it will allow them to take off on the runway. Regardless of the FAA decision, I want to assure the owners of the aircraft the city will reimburse them for the expenses of removing the planes from Meigs.
Some of you may be wondering how the city can afford to close Meigs. In fact, Meigs has been subsidized to the tune of $3 to $4 million by the airlines and customers using O'Hare International Airport. Closing Meigs will provide welcome financial relief to our cash-strapped airlines.
Finally, to anticipate what I know will be a question, yes, I do want a park at Meigs Field. Yes, I am fully aware that many of you will likely question for months to come the motive for closing the airport. The reason we closed the airport now is a fear shared by the Park District, emergency management specialists, and myself about all those airplanes coming so close to so many people in the downtown area.
While there have been no specific threat, let me repeat -- there has been no specific threats-- as mayor of the city of Chicago, public safety is one of the primary responsibilities. I take it very seriously. I am not willing to wait for a tragedy as some have asked me to do, to happen before making a very difficult and tough decision.
Thank you very much.
FAA concerned about Meigs closing
Federal aviation officials say they were concerned to learn this morning that Meigs Field was shut down because removing any centrally located airport, such as Meigs, puts added pressure on Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway airports.
FAA Great Lakes region spokesman Tony Molinaro says the city can close Meigs because it is an "unobligated airport," which means the city has paid back all the federal money that was given to it for the airport.
Spokeswoman says governor didn't know about Meigs closing
A spokeswoman for Governor Rod Blagojevich says they didn't know about the Meigs Field closing ahead of time. But spokeswoman Cheryle Jackson says they weren't surprised either.
She says Blagojevich found out about the closing this morning from Illinois Department of Transportation staff.
Jackson says Blagojevich supports closing Meigs because of the security concerns of having a landing strip downtown.
Jackson called Meigs a convenience and a luxury that current security issues no longer allow.
She says the governor used Meigs to fly back and forth to Springfield, but now will use Midway.
HUH?? .. having a runway at an airport is a security risk?
Oh hell .. why don't we do that to all the airports ..
Well which is it, sleaze bag? Does it make you safer, or does it only make you feel safer?
Meigs is not for jumbo jets or commercial airliners for the most part...it's a place where private planes fly in and out of. Commercial flights generally go in and out of either O'Hare or Midway, both are over crowded.
I'm glad Detroit isn't stupid enough to close the airport on Grosse Isle, I fly there half the time when I go to Tigers games,
It's a good thing the Cubs & Sox opened away today, someone might be dead
As for the controversial decision to shut down the lakefront airstrip late last night without an announcement, Daley wanted to render Meigs unusable before anyone could file lawsuit to stop him.Translation: I wanted to act upon my whims before anyone could exercise their legal perogatives to try and stop me.
No wonder this guy doesn't want anyone having guns.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.