Friday, July 26, 2013

Journal-Standard Letter: Stop taking farmland for Peotone airport

Governor Pat Quinn, whose polling numbers are in the gutter, recently held a press conference where he bragged about spending more money on the proposed Peotone airport. He signed legislation giving the Illinois Department of Transportation authority to form a public-private partnership to build the airport. The state has already spent $40 million to purchase land, and has another $71 million in next year’s budget to take more land from unwilling sellers. Since the state does not pay property tax, that burden is shifted to other taxpayers.

Quinn apparently believes his efforts on the airport prove that he is not incompetent. However, all airlines refuse to go to Peotone, the city of Chicago plans to open a gigantic cargo hub at O’Hare, and the Gary/Chicago airport is moving forward with local, state and federal support. Also, the MidAmerica airport near Mascoutah, another politically driven project built by IDOT, has sat virtually empty, at taxpayer expense, for the last 14 years. Building another white elephant would be an immense blunder.

Out in farm country, we don’t believe in putting the cart before the horse. The Federal Aviation Administration has not approved the Peotone airport and no private investors are on board, yet Quinn continues to take family farms from unwilling sellers through eminent domain. It would be far wiser, and a whole lot fairer, to first have
Federal Aviation Administration approval, a commitment from a major airline and guaranteed funding for the airport and surrounding infrastructure, before taking homes and farms.

Quinn’s failure to recognize farming as an industry and farmland as an irreplaceable resource, demonstrates contempt for farmers and future generations.

— George Ochsenfeld, president of Shut This Airport Nightmare Down, Monee