CASE STUDIES :
The Continuing Saga of Meigs Field
Meigs Field is Chicago's downtown lakefront airport that, at least for the present, serves a vital business need for that city. It's an important alternative for business aircraft to the overburdened commercial O'Hare and Midway airports. In fact, as much as 75 percent of the air traffic at Meigs is business related.
In 1994, Chicago's Mayor Daley and his administration decided that parkland would be a preferable use for the lakefront property that comprises Meigs and the facility was closed in 1996-temporarily, anyway. Fortunately, a committed group of airport users believed there is some truth to the saying, "all that remains for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Friends of Meigs Field, men and women alike, became an important force in staying the immediate execution of a vibrant, efficient facility.
Steve Whitney, one of the leaders of FOMF, credits their success to date with the development of a campaign to save the airport that extended far beyond the pilot community. FOMF built a long list of alliances that moved off-airport to include the local business community and its associations and trade organizations, government officials beyond City Hall, and national aviation organizations.
FOMF also made sure they were armed with the facts about the airport-its uses and operations, the economic impact of the facility and who was responsible for controlling different aspects of airport operations.
Steve's advice to others with the same predicament as Meigs is to be pro-active. Hold pro-airport events. And, when it comes to dealing with the news media, be a well-informed source of information and be willing to share that information on a regular basis.
Because of the efforts of the Friends of Meigs Field, and the assistance of national groups including AOPA, Meigs Field reoponed in 1997 for a period of at least five years. That's kept Whitney and Friends very busy, cementing alliances and reaching out to influential leaders in government, including the Governor of Illinois, to prevent the senseless waste of a facility that proves its worth on a daily basis.
The destiny of Meigs will be determined in the months to come. But in the meantime, a key component of the Chicago region's aviation system is up and running
For more information about
Friends of Meigs Field, go to www.friendsofmeigs.org
or contact them at P.O. Box 59-7308, Chicago, IL 60659.