Ald. Anthony Napolitano’s (41) ordinance giving City Council greater oversight over the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) will get its day in Committee tomorrow, despite Napolitano’s contention that the Emanuel administration told him to “make [the ordinance] go away.” Owen Kilmer with the CDA confirmed Aviation officials will be in attendance. It’s the only agenda item listed, and has eight co-sponsors.
CDA has argued the ordinance would endanger federal funding, violate Illinois law and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, and bump up against intergovernmental agreements with DuPage County. CDA reiterated a statement they gave Aldertrack earlier this month: “This ordinance is a step in the wrong direction for the city of Chicago and the residents who live near O’Hare International Airport. Specifically, the ordinance would result in severe economic implications for the city, stunt O’Hare’s growth as a world-class airport, and jeopardize the important progress the city is making in providing noise relief for residents.”
Ald. Napolitano sent an e-blast to subscribers announcing the ordinance would be heard and encouraging all residents to “attend the hearing and show support for this Ordinance.” He told Aldertrack his ward office gets tens of thousands of O’Hare noise complaints every month.
A week ago, he shared email addresses for members of the City Council’s Aviation Committee, asking subscribers and Facebook followers to lobby members to support the ordinance, as did the FAiR Allocation in Runways Coalition.
After Aviation Chairman Michael Zalewski (23) held a briefing on the ordinance last week, Napolitano followed up with Aviation Committee members in an email, saying “Our focus should be on building more gates and expanding western access,” at O’Hare, and that his ordinance simply does two things: “puts an immediate halt on runway changes and requires [Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans] to obtain Council approval prior to moving forward on any changes” and “asks for the immediate reopening of diagonal runway 14L/32R,” which closed this summer.
Comm. Evans has said that runway was unsafe because it cuts across others and reduces efficiency, but proponents have said the diagonal runways help cut down on noise from planes arriving and departing over the North Side of Chicago, which Napolitano represents.
FAiR has written, “The diagonal runways are a vital component of FAiR’s solutions to the noise and pollution crisis, bringing some relief to the surrounding communities,” and called for coalition members to lobby committee members. “We need all hands on deck. The time is now!!”
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce voiced its concerns in a letter sent to Napolitano and committee members. Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Relations with the Chamber, called the ordinance “shortsighted and irresponsible,” and said it puts the $1.3 billion O’Hare Modernization Program investment at risk. “This ordinance, if passed, would grind to a halt the recent financial investments announced by our airline partners totaling over $1.3 billion, and the estimated 5,000-6,000 full and part time jobs along with it. Investments that do not involve taxpayer funds. It threatens the ability of the airport to function at all.”