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Chicago Officials Order Overnight Airport Demolition
Engineering News Record ^ | 4/1/2003 | Tudor Hampton

Posted on 04/04/2003 3:25:10 AM PST by snopercod

The City of Chicago and Chicago Park District closed downtown commuter airport Meigs Field March 30 in an overnight operation, citing homeland security as the main motivation for the swift action. Demolition equipment operated by a local general contractor rolled into the 55-year-old airfield shortly before midnight and began tearing up its 3,899-ft-long runway with a series of large "X" gouges in the asphalt, preventing small planes from taking off or landing. "We did it for public safety," says Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose action has been called "one of the boldest moves in the mayor's career." No public notice had been given.

Nine days earlier, The Federal Aviation Administration and the Dept. of Homeland Security had implemented a temporary flight restriction banning planes from flying over the city's downtown area. Daley and city emergency management officials claim that private aircraft flying to and from Meigs Field, although just outside the downtown perimeter, were still posing a security threat to nearby buildings. "We are not going to allow an airport to operate for a few people at the expense of a larger number of people," says Cortez Trotter, the Chicago's emergency response chief.

City aviation officials decline to say which local contracting firm had been retained to perform the demolition, which reportedly cost roughly $175,000. But a spokeswoman with the city's procurement services department says the office is not aware of any specific contracts used for the runway work. Rather, she says the job was most likely an extension of an existing aviation maintenance contract held with the city.

Local opposition groups believe the runway's demolition is the beginning of a new civil engineering project to further improve public lakefront property. "It's a complete smokescreen. Daley's been trying to close Meigs Field for years to turn it into a park," says Steve Whitney, board member of Friends of Meigs Field.

"Yes, I do want a park at Meigs Field," says Daley, confirming his support for such a plan but not commenting further.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: generalaviation; homelandsecurity
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Can anyone from the Windy City confirm whether or not this story is an April Fool's joke?
1 posted on 04/04/2003 3:25:10 AM PST by snopercod
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To: bootless
Is this story true?
2 posted on 04/04/2003 3:25:40 AM PST by snopercod
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To: snopercod
I heard it is true but as per usual in Chicago politics the real reason is underhanded real estate deals.
Daley is getting kickbacks to turn the airport into an upscale condo haven. Maybe a small park will be part of his scheme but the real deal is probably campaign contributions and direct payments to Daley and his cronies.
Don't be suprised if they find me in the bottem of some waterway wearing cement booties for telling this truth.
3 posted on 04/04/2003 3:32:41 AM PST by Joe Boucher
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To: snopercod
4 posted on 04/04/2003 3:33:15 AM PST by A. Morgan
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To: snopercod
I remember seeing a picture of the big X's on the runway a couple of days ago, so it must be true
5 posted on 04/04/2003 3:34:09 AM PST by Stefan Stackhouse
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To: snopercod
I read several accounts of this including one from the Chicago Sun-Times. The demolition left 16 private airplanes stranded at Meigs Field since no one was given any notice. Still have not heard how they got the planes out.

Below are two sources articles on this.

6 posted on 04/04/2003 3:37:54 AM PST by Tarheel
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To: Stefan Stackhouse
Yes, its true...

Its big news all over General Aviation. For example, check out the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association:

AOPA headlines w/ Chicago link

7 posted on 04/04/2003 3:40:27 AM PST by C210N
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To: C210N
Sorry, I guess my link don't work. its
8 posted on 04/04/2003 3:41:34 AM PST by C210N
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To: Joe Boucher
A quick search of confirms that this jack-boot tactic really did occur. Link to the Peoria Journal Star article:

Chicago mayor shuts down Meigs Field Construction crews carve up runway in middle of night

April 1, 2003

of Copley News Service

CHICAGO - Mayor Richard Daley defended his sudden and indefinite closing of Meigs Field on Monday, saying the lakefront airport is a threat to public safety.

The controversial move - heavy-equipment operators gouged a series of X’s into the landing strip shortly after midnight Sunday, making it unusable - angered private pilots who enjoy using the scenic airfield but won praise from environmentalists who support longtime plans to convert Meigs into a park.

The closure came more than a week after the federal government granted Daley a temporary "no-fly" zone over the central part of his city. The mayor said he now was removing the last significant threat that airplanes could veer into skyscrapers - a reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York City.

"We have done this to protect the millions of people who live, work (in) and visit our downtown Chicago in these very uncertain times," Daley told reporters during a hastily convened news conference at City Hall.

Among the last travelers to use Meigs were Peoria Mayor Dave Ransburg and his wife, Zan, who flew home Sunday from Chicago with Bill Widener, chief pilot for Ransburg’s company, L.R. Nelson Corp. The water-sprinkler company frequently used the airport, which is minutes away from The Loop, for business trips.

"I’m deeply disappointed in Mayor Daley," Mayor Ransburg said. "I think the whole way he did it was out of character for him. He’s (previously) been very direct and above-board. This was sort of a midnight attack, and that’s a shame."

It could have been worse if L.R. Nelson’s Cessna had stayed overnight. Sixteen planes were marooned at Meigs and will either be allowed to fly out on an existing taxiway or removed for the owners at city expense, Daley said.

Located near Soldier Field and Chicago’s museum campus, Meigs Field was the site of a combined 32,000 take-offs and landings last year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency acknowledged city officials have the legal right to close Meigs but expressed concern it would put "added pressure" on Chicago’s two major airports, O’Hare International and Midway.

Daley has long sought to build a park on Meigs, which sits atop a man-made peninsula owned by the park district. The Chicago Democrat in late 2001 agreed to keep Meigs open for at least a few more years as a way to get then-Gov. George Ryan to support a costly expansion and modernization of O’Hare.

Federal legislation to cement the deal effectively died in the U.S. Senate.

The loudest outcry against the Daley administration Monday came from the Friends of Meigs Field, which said the city used "storm-troop tactics" under cover of night. The airport preservation group wasn’t immediately sure what options it had in responding to the runway excavation, president Rachel Goodstein said.

On the other side of the issue, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, also a Chicago Democrat, agrees with Daley’s safety concerns and supports the shutdown, spokeswoman Cheryle Jackson said. Meanwhile, the local group Friends of the Parks welcomed the prospect of additional lakefront property opening up to the general public, president Erma Tranter said.

L.R. Nelson likely will now use the less-convenient Midway Airport to get employees to downtown Chicago, Ransburg said. So, too, will the Illinois Department of Transportation, which had used Meigs for its weekday air shuttles linking Springfield and Chicago, agency spokesman Mike Monseur said.

IDOT coordinates three flights back and forth daily for state employees, he said.

9 posted on 04/04/2003 3:41:50 AM PST by snopercod
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To: snopercod
The work of a tyrant. You expect this from Arab despots. How are those with planes trapped there supposed to fly them out of the secretly-destroyed airport?
10 posted on 04/04/2003 3:45:03 AM PST by NoControllingLegalAuthority
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To: C210N
I quit the AOPA about ten years ago because of Phil Boyer's continued reference to flying as a "privelege", not a right.

I believe that the AOPA has now learned their lesson.

11 posted on 04/04/2003 3:46:13 AM PST by snopercod
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To: snopercod
It's true....sadly most people here could give a ratsass. The stated "reason" is a joke. Homeland security. The new buzzword for your gov't trampling over what it wants. If homeland security was so important in Daley's mind then one would have to close the entire lakefront and the Chicgo river off to ALL boats. The river goes right thru downtown and a boat loaded w/ explosives could pull right up to a riverfront dock on one of these buildings and *KA-BOOM*. But that wont happen 'cuz big donors like to have big boats out on the lake. Meigs Field will become a casino. Bet on it.
12 posted on 04/04/2003 3:46:54 AM PST by Brasky (Guns dont kill people...the gov't does.)
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To: NoControllingLegalAuthority
If Daley were truely interested in preventing another 9-11 type attack, then he would insist that O'Hare be demolished, not Meigs.

It is obvious to the most casual observer that a C-150 is not capable of destroying a skyscraper.

13 posted on 04/04/2003 3:49:12 AM PST by snopercod
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To: snopercod
THE DESTRUCTION OF MEIGS FIELD Do you have Microsoft Flight Explorer? If you do, the default airport is Meigs Field. Meigs Field is no more.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has wanted to close Meigs Field for quite some time. To be more accurate, Daly’s wife has wanted to close Meigs. She wanted to build a park there.

In December of 2001 Daley signed an agreement in which he promised to keep Meigs open for another 25 years, this in turn for certain improvements and expansions at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Daley was only buying time, waiting for the right time to strike.

Sunday night seemed to be the right time. At about 11:00 p.m. Daley ordered bulldozers to destroy the runways at Meigs. He used terrorism as his excuse, though he admitted in a press conference that there is not nor has there ever been a specific terrorist threat to Chicago related in any way to Meigs.

The action taken by Daley doesn’t seem to be too popular in Chicago … even with the non-flying public. A Chicago Tribune Poll this morning shows that 70% of the 16,000+ people who have responded oppose the mayor’s action.

So, yet another politician exploits national security concerns to advance a personal issue … and it looks like Daley’s wife is going to get her park. Politics as usual in Chicago.

At least I had a chance to visit Meigs in 2002 in N750DB ... before the Mayor's wife got her wish. Neal Boortz

14 posted on 04/04/2003 3:56:01 AM PST by kcordell
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To: snopercod
No April Fools joke here. This happened.

UPDATE:Yesterday all but one of the planes took off from the taxi way. When asked if he would pay a political price for his actions, King Daley said "No, People want you to make decisions--they don't want you to be a Lover boy".

Also, yesterday top city business leaders issued a statement expressing their dissapointment over King Daley's actions.

15 posted on 04/04/2003 4:08:54 AM PST by Musket
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To: snopercod
In other words, the terrorists win another round. Why not tear down all general aviation airports? Think how secure that would be.
16 posted on 04/04/2003 4:47:54 AM PST by Raymond Hendrix
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To: NoControllingLegalAuthority
The city of chicago (taxpayers) will have to pay to have the planes relocated (on a flatbed truck?) to another airfield.
17 posted on 04/04/2003 5:06:36 AM PST by jim419
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To: snopercod
See for yourself

18 posted on 04/04/2003 9:16:57 AM PST by Mr_Magoo (Single, available, and easy)
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To: snopercod
Yesterday's Actions:

My letter to Senator Fitzgerald:

During the overnight period of March 30 - March 31, Mayor Daily bulldozed the runway at Meigs Fld. This disturbs me greatly. I am of the understanding that part of the agreement between Daily and Ryan ( that is being debated in the Senate) was that Meigs was to remain open to general avation.

I am of the opinion that because Daily has violated that agreement, the O'Hare Expansion Agreement is now Null and Void. NO Federal funds should be released to the city of Chicago for O'Hare Expansion without Meigs being restored at the Mayor's expence first.

Not to mention that the Mayor did this excavation without first filing an Environmental Impact Statement.

Please do what you can to overturn this travisty.

Thank you,

Today I discussed this with the City of Bensonville. I pointed out that Daily's actions violated H.R. 592 Section 5 and S. 83 section (i), both in letter and spirit. Therefor the entire O'Hare Expansion Agreement should be concidered null and void.

Also this afternoon I sent the following to Tom Ridge, of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Overnight, on March 31, 2003 Mayor Daily of Chicago severely damaged the runway of Meigs Fld. rendering it unusable. His claim that Meigs Fld. Is a security threat is a joke. As was proven last year in Florida, a Cessna or Piper Cub crashing into a high rise does very limited damage. Nothing like his claims that it would be similar to the damage a 767 would cause. I don't think it is nessessary to point out that there has never been a terrorist incident linked in any way to Meigs Fld. This point is further reinforced by Mayor Daily doing this stunt during the overnight hours under the cover of darkness because he knew he was compromising the safety of the city.

This creates a Homeland Security threat to the city of Chicago, and the surrounding 6 county metropolitan area. Meigs Fld. is a vital airport for Chicago due to it's proximity to the downtown area. It is frequently used for life flight Operations, and airlift of Organs for transplantation due to how close it is to the area's major hospitals. Also due to it's location on the lake front, it is vital to the security of Chicago as a launch and recovery point for aircraft monitoring shipping traffic on Lake Michigan, as well as Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter operations.

Therefor I request that The Dept. of Homeland Security take over possession of Northerly Island and Meigs Fld. through Eminent Domain proceedings. I request that this be done as an emergency action due to the security threat that the Mayor's action has created for the millions of residents in proximity to Lake Michigan. Airport operations can be safely maintained with FAA and Coast Guard oversight to insure safe operation of Official aircraft as well as General Aviation and Corporate Aviation aircraft.

Use the above for ideas. We might not win, but at least we can make his life miserable.

19 posted on 04/04/2003 9:19:18 AM PST by Mr_Magoo (Single, available, and easy)
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To: Mr_Magoo
Daly is clearly a terroist. He has destroyed critical infrastructure just as surely as if he had used a car-bomb.
20 posted on 04/04/2003 1:57:28 PM PST by snopercod
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