One year ago this month, the FAA said it would take legal action against the city of Chicago because officials failed to notify the agency 30 days before closing Meigs Field. In the early morning hours f March 30, 2003, Mayor Richard Daley sent heavy equipment onto the field to carve trenches across its single runway, citing terrorism worries as his reason.
The Meigs property has since been transformed into a lakefront park, and late last month the FAA formally imposed the legal maximum fine of $33,000 for the deactivation of Meigs. The city has the option to appeal the fine, but at press time had not decided whether to do so. While that sum may not amount to so much as an asterisk on the city budget, the FAA continues investigating whether the city improperly diverted $1.5 million in restricted airport revenues to pay for demolishing Meigs’ runway. If the FAA rules against Chicago on that charge, the city could face penalties of up to $4.5 million.