O'Hare noise group disappointed with Emanuel meeting
A long-awaited session with Mayor Rahm Emanuel was a flop, anti-jet-noise activists said Wednesday, and their new hope lies with an alderman's proposal to save diagonal runways at O'Hare.
"Unfortunately, the result was more of the same and it's business as unusual," Fair Allocation in Runways member Colleen Mulcrone said at Chicago City Hall.
"We were advocates for those diagonal runways that we want to keep to provide noise relief to the most communities. ... We were told it's not going to happen. So it was really a waste of our time."
O'Hare International Airport's shift to a parallel, east-west runway system instead of predominantly diagonal ones in fall 2013 produced an outcry about jet noise from suburban and city neighborhoods. FAIR representatives think using the diagonal runways will more evenly distribute the din from jets.
FAIR member and Medinah resident Dan Dwyer called the meeting with Emanuel civil, but he thinks the city has its priorities wrong.
The mayor conveyed that the city was financially and contractually committed to O'Hare expansion and the parallel runways, Dwyer said. One of the diagonal runways also would impede long-standing plans for a western bypass around O'Hare and western terminal, Dwyer said the group was told.
"The disagreement was on solutions," Dwyer said. "He (Emanuel) has the power to make the decisions, but the finances of the project seemed more important than the noise relief."
FAIR now will push for passage of a proposed ordinance that seeks to give power for removing runways to the city's aviation committee instead of the aviation department.
But the ordinance from 41st Ward Alderman Anthony Napolitano is short the required signatures from other aldermen to trigger a vote. Napolitano said he's working to get others to buy in.
"We're going to mobilize our members," Mulcrone said, adding the group would continue to pressure elected officials.
The Chicago Aviation Department contends that the parallel runway system is safer than the diagonal plan and allows for more airplanes to take off and land.
After a series of meetings with Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans last summer, the city proposed rotating runway use overnight to help residents get some relief. That idea is under discussion.