ALNAC Says Durbin Uninformed About Airport Project


With Congresswoman Halvorson now serving as a lame-duck legislator in Washington, the rhetoric over the proposed Peotone Airport is heating up.

Sadly, over the past two years, neither Congresswoman Halvorson or Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., were able to set aside their incredible egos and work for the benefit of all in Illinois. Hopefully, now, Congressman Jackson will work for the people of Illinois instead of focusing his energy against Halvorson.

The following comes to us from the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission (ALNAC), yet another attack at a sitting pol:

In a recent dust-up of who’s not talking to whom, one thing is for sure, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL) understands very little about the Abraham Lincoln National Airport, it’s Commission and the private funding mechanism that’s been in place for years according to ALNAC.

Last Wednesday, while at an airport conference in Chicago, Sen. Durbin stated “Most of the theories behind a third airport involve some form of private funding. That too is in question,” Durbin said, "because of the current state of the global economy, in terms of funding that kind of operation. So I’m not going to push it off the table, but I am going to tell you what is smack dab in the middle of the table is finishing O’Hare and doing it the right way.”

Mayor Alvin R. McCowan of University Park, IL who happens to be ALNAC’s Chairman said, “With all due respect to Senator Durbin, our funding for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport is solid and NOT in question. We have had unyielding support from LCOR and SNC – Lavlin, two world wide developers who build and manage airports across the globe. This project will be built with $400 million of their own money, private dollars and will have additional leverage with $1 billion in bonds from the Canadian Government. That’s how airports are built around the world and should be built here in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration supports this position. It’s not a theory.”

LCOR and SNC – Lavlin both signed RFP’s with ALNAC in 2003 to build the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. But for some reason Sen. Durbin has doubts about the developers’ ability to fund it.

“Conditions have changed significantly since the idea for the Peotone airport was proposed by former Governor George Ryan. I think that conversation has changed some,” Durbin said. "It’s changed because the expansion of communities and residences toward the south has slowed down. It’s slowed down because of the state of the economy and the state of the real estate market.”

But ALNAC Vice-Chairman, Mayor John Ostenberg of Park Forest, IL states that their financing model fits what’s needed to bolster jobs in this slow-growing economy. “When you have an economic climate such as now, local communities look for businesses to invest their own dollars to create jobs and opportunity. In creating our model to attract funding, we chose to attract private money than placing the burden on government. For years there have been 60 people to every available 1 job in the south suburbs. That was before the recession. It’s the developers plan, idea and money to build this economic engine that will provide 15,000 plus jobs to an entire region that desperately needs it.”

ALNAC is supported by more than 30 municipalities with a combined population of over 600,000 residents throughout Will, Kankakee and Cook counties. They support an Intergovernmental Agreement to build a commercial airport with passenger and cargo facilities near University Park, Illinois which features revenue sharing for its member communities.

Mayors McCowan and Ostenburg both feel that meeting with Durbin would enhance his understanding of The Lincoln National Airport as well as provide additional leverage to get it built. “With all of the talk about who’s never spoken to whom, it would be important for our U.S. Senator to speak with us and understand how this airport project helps the economy for the entire State of Illinois. Since the commission was formed over seven years ago, Senator Durbin has never spoken us. We think now is a good time for him to do so.”

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