Tue, Aug 21, 2012
Mayor Rahm Emanuel Said Daley Decision To Destroy The Airport In The Dark Of Night 'The Right Thing To Do'
It was no April Fool's joke when Chicago pilots woke up on April 1st, 2003, to find that bulldozers had cut big "X"s in the runway at Meigs Field on the shore of Lake Michigan. Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered the destruction of the airport under the cover of darkness. His successor, Rahm Emanuel, said last week that it was the "right thing to do."
Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Barack Obama and a top advisor in the Clinton White House, made the remarks last week as he formally revealed plans to convert the former airport into an urban park where inner-city kids can have access to the lakefront. The plan has been in development by the Chicago Park District for two years.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that at a news conference Thursday, Emanuel said "Meigs Field is no longer here. Northerly Island will be a part of the city in a way that everybody can experience. I think it was the right thing to do."
According to a news release, the total budget for the restoration project is $4.3 million, with $2.8 million covered by a federal Great Lakes Fisheries Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) grant. The Park District is providing $1.5 million out of the reserve from revenues generated by the concert venue at Northerly Island. The concert revenues will also help fund the cost of the camping programs, including spots for at-risk youth.
The new programs will add 900 family camping opportunities at Northerly Island annually; 600 of these slots are for family campers and 300 are for young people ages 12-to-15 in the Wilderness Camping program. Some of these opportunities are timed to coincide with breaks in the Chicago Public Schools year-round school schedule, the release said.
Construction is expected to begin in November 2012 and be completed in spring of 2014 which also includes a five-year plant maintenance program with portions of the park, such as the trail, opening in the fall of 2012.
(File image of Meigs Field before it was bulldozed in 2003)
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