Let’s Not Be Distracted By Runway And Casino “Issues”


On April 7th Park Ridge will have its first municipal election that doesn’t involve aldermanic races, courtesy of Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark’s cut-the-council referendum that reduced our City Council to one-half its historical 14-member strength and failed to provide staggered terms for the seven aldermen.

That means we have only one contested City race, although it’s for the big chair at City Hall.  But we also have two City advisory referendum issues related to the Park Ridge Police station: a straightforward one put on the ballot by Park Ridge citizens when the City Council refused, and a vague and ambiguous eleventh-hour throw-away one by Ald. Frank Wsol, who in the past few months seems to be trying to come up with ways to salvage whatever might be left of his tattered reputation as a “fiscal conservative.”

Who deserves to be elected mayor in April depends in large part on how each of the candidates proposes to address the many issues that are crucial to the survival, the character and the prosperity of our community – issues that the citizens of Park Ridge have substantial control over if they pay attention and hold their elected officials accountable for addressing them in the most productive and cost-effective ways.  Those are the issues on which the focus of the mayoral campaign needs to be.

There are two other issues, however, that we appear to have little or no control over, making them nothing more than distractions to the candidates and the voters: The new O’Hare runway and the Des Plaines casino.

For those of you living in the Belle Plaine corridor, the new runway has been an extremely rude awakening.  We are not trying to minimize or ignore its harsh effects on the residents in that area. 

But it’s a $500 million-plus reality that is not going away, no matter how many letters we send to Jan Schakowsky, Dick Durbin, Pres. Obama, or the International Olympic Committee.  And for the time being, reducing flights on the new runway presents pretty much a zero-sum game for Park Ridge, because many of the flights diverted from 9L/27R will be shifted to the other two runways whose flight paths extend over our community: 22L and 22R. 

Neither Mayor Frimark nor his challenger, Ald. Dave Schmidt, tried to do anything about the new runway prior to its opening in November, and there’s no reason to think that whichever one of them gets elected in April will be able to do anything to make that problem go away – not with the FAA, the airlines, the City of Chicago, and the Chicagoland business community arrayed against us.  If you don’t believe us, check to see how well what’s left of the Suburban O’Hare Commission has fared despite spending millions of dollars on unsuccessful litigation.

The same goes for the casino.  This, too, was ignored by everybody in City government – from the mayor on down – until the announcement that it was awarded to Des Plaines and will be built at River Road and Devon.  But while the casino does not have all the federal weight behind it that the new runway does, even the most optimistic among us need only look and listen to Frimark’s pathetic presentation to the Illinois Gaming Board a few weeks ago to know that there is nothing we can do, short of begging for Des Plaines to toss us a few table scraps, to change or improve that situation.  

So let’s not waste the remaining five weeks of this campaign season grilling our two mayoral candidates about the runway or the casino.  And, more importantly, let’s not let those two candidates use the runway and the casino to dodge the more meaningful and substantive Park Ridge issues on which they – and we – really can have some influence.  

17 comments so far

Bravo! Let the (real) debate begin!!

I agree that the existing runway is going to be used regardless of the protests of the citizens of Park Ridge. Chicago will not abandon a $500 MM asset because of some complaining, no matter how loud it may get.

But, the O’Hare expansion is not yet complete. We may be able to influence the order in which the other runways are built and thus influence the number of planes flying over Park Ridge. So I’d like to know the position of the mayoral candidates on dealing with future O’Hare expansion and how they propose to influence that expansion.

Now we’re talking.

There are some real issues that need addressing. And I believe these are issues that should and can be taken care of with the right leadership. I can’t even think about any new building, developing, or purchasing land, until we get the rest of our town back in shape and up to par.

Seriously, what good is developing another area of town when the surrouding streets are literally crubling? Take target area 4 for example. Why spend the money on what we know would be some developer friendly give away, with the promise of some bogus return on a partnership investment when Cumberland avenue, which would surround and feed into that “target area” is in the pitiful condition it is.

Listen far beit from me to poo-poo progress, but it just seems that the taxpayers expect certain things to be done with their money. Things that would certainly not make the hair on the backs of our necks stand on end. If our money is being spent on the basics, the things we can see with our very eyes every time we drive around town, most would say ” money well spent”. You know like being able to drive through town after a rain and NOT have to be afraid that our car might die in the middle of a flooded intersection. Or if after a snow, we aren’t left wondering if the streets will be plowed or salted, or not losing a hub cap on our pot-hole infested streets.

Although I appreciate a pot full of flowers along summit ave, I’d give up the daisys in order to address the forementioned. I believe no matter how much money you throw at the uptown area in order to have the appearance that that particular developement is a success, we all know that plan has fallen well short of what was promised. And NO, it’s not because of any lawsuits, it’s because it was a bad plan to begin with.

I think what we’re looking for is a working city budget, controlled and capped spending, geared toward city sevices, and not on frivolous spending. A true assesment of the immidiate needs of the city. I think we could also do without the endless string of consultants who’s only true job is to tell the one hiring exactly what they want to hear to push some new project.
Try listening to the residents.. we’re much more in tune with our community than some hired gun.

Whew, I think I got on a soap box there.. sorry.
I believe it’s time for some new leadership and
a fresh start. We need some integrity and plain ‘ol common sence. Out with the special intrest and in with the interest of our residents and our community.

Anonymous on 03.02.09 10:05 am –

Unless you’re willing to go with carpet bombing and land mines, you’re SOL. But who knows? A sackful of letters a day to the IOC from Park Ridge may be just what it takes to have them award the Olympics to Brazil.

Dog, your timing is impeccable. I just received a mass e-mailing from Lauren Streff trying to rally the troops to support a Rosemary Mulligan sponsored bill seeking an “independent” Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the whole O’Hare region.

I’ve got no problem with that because I’m no fan of O’Hare expansion, although I remember not too many weeks ago when Mulligan showed up at an ORD-REST meeting in the Library and told the attendees that she had done everything she could to fight expansion but there was no hope.

But I wonder where the Ms. Streff came up with the statement that “the EIS that was used to support O’Hare expansion is not accurate — this has been proven.” I have not seen or heard anything to that effect, and the e-mail doesn’t say anything more or provide any resource reference.

I also question the statment that “recently released noise monitoring data in Park Ridge IL alone, show noise decibel level readings at more than four times the levels predicted in that EIS.” That’s another one of those doozies that sure should have hit the newspapers and television stations if it were true.

So before people start running off half-cocked, can Ms. Streff provide the info to support these statements?

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As a resident not affected by the new runway or the Casino that, by the way I don’t think will spell the end of the Park Ridge world as we know it, I thank the PublicWatchdog for this post today.

I want to know by how much the City is going to raise my taxes to cover the deficits from the last two years because my family needs to prepare for that increase. We got socked with another whopper tax bill.

I think I understand that much of that socking it to us was because of the Schools referendum and I have mixed feelings about that, but I also read in the news today about the State of Illinois talking about raising taxes too. I’m wondering just how much all these governments are going to be planning on taking from my family, which will be a good trick if my husband loses his job in the coming months.

Pub Dog-though I appreciate your comments today I disagree. The expansion of ORD and the new runway is the only issue in the election that matters to me as a resident of the Belle Plaine corridor. If I am going to continue have 200+ flights per day going directly over my home I could care less about the potholes and the sewers. Our property values have been negatively affected by the airplane noise-filling potholes and new sewers is not going to dramatically help the values of homes in the Belle Plaine corridor. Living in the town will be pretty much ruined for my family and the rest of us in this area who bought our homes in this neighborhood partly because we had almost no airplane traffic. So fighting Daley and the FAA is something I support and I know Frimark has no plan-but am interested in what Schmidt might support doing.

Anonymous on 03.02.09 4:08 pm :

If ORD expansion/the new runway is the only issue in the mayoral election that matters to you, then there’s no need for you to vote in this election because you have nothing to vote for…or against.

Neither of these mayoral candidates – and nobody else in this town, for that matter – is able to do more than beg for mercy that won’t be offered by anybody who has to explain $500 million of concrete and steel.

But I have to wonder: If this runway means so darn much to you, where were you back in 2005 before they started laying the concrete for 9L27R? Or from then until they opened it in November? Were you snoozing with Frimark?

I agree, the Ohare expansion is a non issue for the canadates. I live in the Belle Plaine corrordore and quite frankly I hope Daily gets the money for the remainder of the expansion and completes the project ASAP. At this point we have our runway and that’s never going to change. In my opinion, our best hope is that once the remaining runways get built the traffic gets spread out over all 4 runways instead of 2 or 3. I have always thought the departure traffic that we have lived with for years is far worse than the arivals. In theory, once the east/west departure runways are completed we should see less departing traffic over our heads.

I hate to be a party pooper but the runways are for the increased air traffic and I figure this new one that’s built was to handle the additional trafiic.

I’ve seen the BP, Express way and the route in between Foster and Lawerence Aves. all used at the same time or at least when I’ve looked.

Question for anon 4:08,

If there were no plane problems, would you still care less about the general condition of our city streets, sewers, and all around appearance, and the rediculous spending on everything else but taking care of those things mentioned?

Believe me planes are not the only reason values of propery are dropping. Lack of services for the dollar is way up there on the list.

We all bought our homes in Park Ridge with the full knowledge of it proximity to O’Hare. Although I agree that it stinks for anyone living along Belleplaine ave, I agree with anon 5:46, the addtional runways should pick up the slack. But it would be in PR’S best interest to follow the progress of those new runways closely as to NOT repeat the error of late.

Good God Mike!!!! I am soooo freakin’ tired of this!!! “…but the runways are for the increased air traffic and I figure this new one that’s built was to handle the additional trafiic”. Why do you keep saying this? You are not a party pooper – you are just wrong. This may have been the idea when the new runways were in the planning phases years ago but it in no way matches reality – no matter what three runways you have seen being used all at the same time.

Have you seen the airline industry lately? Please read this link:

O’hare was at a 15 year low for flight traffic in 2008. Have you noticed that the economy currently sucks? What do you think will happen with business travel in 2009? Do you think companys will be more careful about business trips? How about vacation travel? I bet fewer people can afford that flight to Orlando to go visit the big mouse this year. This means that the flights for 2009 will be significantly less than 2008.

Who the hell knows. Maybe 10 years from know everything will be fantastic (more likely most of the airlines we know today will be out of business or owned by the government) and O’hare flights will have increased, but for now they and you “figured” wrong.

Hoover-I would never snooze with Frimark. However, I expected that our elected officials would do what we as ordinary citizens cannot-meet with other politicians to make sure the interests of PR residents are not being ignored. I also would have expected that Frimark would have verified the information coming out of the city of Chicago that the runway was to be used for certain aircraft only under certain conditions. Frimark and the 7 council men failed miserably. And yes we should checked, too. But the primary responsibility lies with the city government. And now our neighborhood has been ruined. We cannot sell our homes right now. (yes I realize not many in town can sell right now) Who would buy a house when you come to the open house and a plane flies over every 2 minutes. No one in their right mind. So we are stuck and we are screwed. And our property taxes are being based on a very inflated value.

Today was peaceful-one of the 10% of the days when we had takeoffs not landings. Much better as not every plane taking off is going over my house so there are not 200+ planes going over my house in a day.

It is going to take this town a very long time to undo the damage done in the very short time that Frimark took over. The infrastructure is so far gone that many years worth of capital improvements will be needed to catch up. And I agree the level of services we get from City Hall for the taxes we pay is pathetic. But for our neighborhood-this all pales in comparison to the nightmare of the new runway and what it has meant to us. And when the rest of the runways are completed when the money is available there will be many more PR residents who are unhappy.

Is there any need for the hosillity Anon?

If I’m wrong then why are both The Bell Plane and expressway routes and the other 1 south of PR often being used at the same time?

I recall once being at the library reading something by the windows and only the first 2 corridors were being used and not the one south of town so I’m not doubting it but still their must be enough other times which is why all 3 are often used.

Anon-what are you saying-that I should be grateful it is only 200+ planes per day over my house and not more? I should be grateful the economy sucks? Since runways take years to be built the ORD OMP is for expansion to handle future needs. What will that and the new runways bring to ORD in 5 years or 10? More noise and more pollution? Certainly nothing good.

On Presidents day-1080 planes landed at ORD. I don’t care how this compares to other years. That means 1080 planes landed on 3 runways at ORD. Divide that equally and that is still too too many planes flying down the Belle Plaine corridor.

So what’s your plan for getting the new runway closed??? How many millions were spent on trying to stop the construction in the past. You think that runway is going away? Not a chance… Like it or not spreading the traffic out over 4 runways is still better than 3.

anon 3:10:

Somehow you read something into my post that was and is not there. I was responding to Mike who loves to say that the runway was being built to handle additional traffic. I was pointing out some facts that prove him wrong.

Where on earth in my post did you see the word or the inference of being grateful?? I live on Belle Plaine only a few blocks from Maine South. I think everything about is crap, from the way the poloticians handle it to the way that measure the sound levels. I think the current situation is completely unacceptable.

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