Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field and executive director for Meigs Action Coalition (Booth No. 4013), said that the fight to keep open the Chicago general aviation airport, which was scheduled to close on Feb. 10, 2002, still is not over. “The city of Chicago and the city’s park commission passed ordinances that extend the airport’s lease on a month-to-month basis,” said Goodstein. “But Mayor Richard Daley will certainly close the airport if the federal legislation currently in the Senate’s hands does not pass.”
The legislation that would keep Meigs Field open until 2026 is the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act, which ties federal funding of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Meigs’ existence. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3479) by a resounding margin, but the corresponding S.B. 2089 has yet to reach the Senate floor.
“Illinois Senator Fitzgerald is not in favor of the O’Hare component of the bill and has threatened to filibuster,” said Goodstein. “We’ve been working very hard to get the more than 60 senators needed to break such a filibuster and get the legislation passed.”
Assuming the bill passes and receives President Bush’s signature, Meigs Field could still be closed as soon as 2006 due to provisions that allow the Illinois state legislature to take such action. These provisions were added to help stall states’ rights lawsuits that may be inevitably filed after passage of this legislation.
Representatives from the Friends of Meigs are on hand to help NBAA attendees contact their senators in support of S.B. 2089. NBAA has provided grants totaling more than $100,000 in support of saving Meigs Field.