Fighting To Save Airports

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Illinois Considers Law To Save Meigs...

Chicago would be forced to reopen Meigs Field and never close it again under legislation now before the Illinois legislature. With help from AOPA, Rep. David Leitch (R-73rd District) has introduced an amendment to state Senate Bill 802 that would give Chicago additional powers to expand O'Hare International Airport. The amendment would require the city to "restore and reopen Meigs Field as an airport for public use." "The closure of Meigs Field adversely affects air traffic and airports throughout the Chicago region," the amendment reads. "Meigs Field, if reopened, would immediately serve a vital role for air transportation in this state ..." The airport, on the Chicago waterfront, was closed March 31 when Mayor Richard Daley ordered city crews to dig large X's across the single runway. AOPA's regional rep Bill Dunn said the state's willingness to get involved shows the issue is bigger than just Chicago. Meanwhile, the city lost a round in court when it tried to have the temporary restraining order on further destruction of Meigs lifted. Cook County Circuit Court Judge William Maki refused to lift the restraining order, which is supposed to stay on until the next official hearing of the Friends of Meigs' (FOM) petition for a permanent restraining order. That hearing is May 23. FOM wants the judge to order disclosure of details of the meetings held to plan the strike on Meigs to see if they violate the state's open meetings laws. The city has so far refused to release the information.

...Waterfront Battles In Canada, Too

Waterfront airports everywhere seem to be the targets of land- and tax-lusting politicians and even relatively uncrowded Canada has its battles. In the metropolis of Toronto, the aviation community fights a constant battle to remind the city and senior governments of the importance of Toronto City Centre Airport, which is on an island a few hundred yards from the downtown core. This coming Saturday and Sunday, the airport and several businesses there are taking part in Doors Open Toronto, an opportunity to show off the airport and explain its role in the Toronto transportation system. There has been a vigorous campaign by some airport opponents to close the airport and turn it into a park (sound familiar?) but so far the aviation community has been able to counter it. Far away from the bustle of the big city in Nelson, British Columbia, a similar if smaller-scale fight is brewing. Pilots and aviation businesses at that waterfront airport are convinced the mayor and council of the city (pop. 10,000) want to shut down the single-strip facility and sell it off for industrial and commercial use. The airport's status is being reviewed year to year and it is no longer in the city's official community plan. According to the airport supporters' Web site, the airport is a vital Medevac facility, a search-and-rescue training and operations base and an essential transportation link for the relatively isolated mountain community. It's also one of the most beautiful little airports anywhere, with the city's historic downtown core a short walk from the tie downs. The airport boosters are looking for any support they can get to convince the city council of the airport's value, and there's strength in numbers. Nelson's a convenient stop for U.S. pilots heading for Alaska, after clearing customs in either Cranbrook or Kelowna. Stopping in for a breath of fresh mountain air may help keep the numbers up.