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07-07-2012 FOM Comment on USACE Study

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Friends of Meigs comment on USACE study of Meigs property

Friends of Meigs Field offer comments on Army Corps of Engineers study for Meigs property

7/7/2012, Chicago--As you may know, if you have followed the Meigs Field story in recent years, the Chicago Park District announced in 2010 a "framework plan" for the development of Northerly Island (the Meigs property) as a nature park. Since the airport's illegal midnight demolition in March, 2003, there has been only some prairie grass and a bike path on the bulk of the property, as the Park District has been too short of funds to build anything more interesting.

In June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a study entitled "Northerly Island Ecosystem Restoration-Detailed Project Report & Environmental Assessment". The purpose of the report, in part, is to determine whether federal USACE funds are justified to be used to help create the Park District's plan. The report proposes that the Corps pay about $4 million of the project's total $6 million price tag.

In the study, the USACE evaluates a number of different options for the property, comparing costs and benefits for a variety of nature elements, including a pond, marshland, savannah, etc.

A 30-day comment period expired on July 7, and the Friends of Meigs Field submitted comments on a variety of issues, including environmental contaminant concerns, erosion issues, possible issues with soil sampling locations based on the site description, and even the title of the report. (In no way can the project be considered "restoration"; the land did not exist prior to the 1920's, and was never home to any land-based "ecosystem.")

The Friends of Meigs Field expressed thanks for the opportunity to comment on these plans, but pointed out that there was never an opportunity to comment in advance on the far more important decision to destroy the airport overnight in the first place.

Parks and Planes plan offers win-win alternative The group also expressed hope that--with full consideration of the needs of ALL parties--win/win options can be found that would benefit air travelers, park users and the ecosystem alike. One option, developed by the Friends of Meigs, is the award-winning Parks and Planes plan, introduced in 2003. Other, even bolder options are available.

The Friends of Meigs Field has not been impressed that the Corps' partner--the Chicago Park District--has an open mind for such options at this time, absent significant leadership from elected city officials.

Click here to see the Friends of Meigs Field's Comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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