But Does Settlement Change Daley's Mind On Meigs?
Did Chicago Mayor
Richard Daley (right) get off easy in the settlement deal
reached Monday between his administration and the FAA over
the wanton destruction of Meigs Field?
Steve Whitney, president of Friends of Meigs Field, told the
Chicago Sun-Times he applauds the FAA for "holding the city's feet
to the fire," by requiring the Daley administration to pay the full
$33,000 fine imposed for the city's failure to give the required
30-day notice of its intent to destroy the field.
As Aero-News reported, Daley
sent in bulldozers the night of March 30-31, 2003 to carve huge
"X"s in the airport's runway -- making the airport unusable to 16
planes stationed at Meigs, as well as those inbound to the
"The city put pilots and the flying public at risk by the way
they did this," said Whitney. "There were aircraft inbound to Meigs
Field that morning. If anyone had been low on fuel, it could have
been a tragedy."
Daley purposely concocted an emergency, Whitney adds, to speed
along his wish to turn Northerly Island into a park.
"It was done this way because the only way to close Meigs Field
was to do it illegally. There was too much public opposition for
them to do it in the light of day," Whitney said.
Since the closure of Meigs, Whitney says, Congress has increased
the fine by a factor of ten "because they never want this to happen
Despite the high cost of the settlement -- $1.033 million
-- it could have been much higher... and will likely do
nothing to dissuade the Chicago mayor from believing he did the
correct and honorable thing in closing Meigs.
"Mayors all over the country wish they could close a piece of
property like that on the lake," Daley told the Sun-Times in 2003.
"Chicago is the envy of the world.... We're the only city going
almost from Evanston to Indiana that's purely open space and
recreation for people. No other city has this. I think it's the
greatest thing I've ever -- one of the great things I've done
besides the public schools."
"There would be lawsuits galore. That's why [the Meigs
demolition was done in secret]. They'd be in federal court trying
to monkey up the water," the mayor added.