Saying he doesn't see a potential for economic benefits, state Rep. Jonathan Carroll has joined several area residents by demanding that Chicago Executive Airport halt any talk of a possible main runway expansion.
Co-owned by Wheeling and Prospect Heights, Chicago Executive has been developing an updated master plan that could be completed this year. Visitors to an open house in December viewed proposals for the revised document, which included the concept of a longer primary runway that would extend beyond the airport's boundaries.
On April 2, Wheeling voters will decide an advisory referendum that asks "Shall the village of Wheeling president and board of trustees vote to approve runway expansion beyond the existing roadways bordering Chicago Executive Airport?"
Carroll, whose 57th House District includes the airport, said residents living near the facility should not have to worry about being displaced for runway expansion, which is why he's calling for any talk about it to end. He contends that more jets using Chicago Executive won't boost local hotels or restaurants.
"Let me be clear: I'm not against commerce," said Carroll, a Northbrook Democrat. "I'm not against business. But the people that land their planes there aren't staying in Wheeling. They're not staying in Mount Prospect. They're not staying in Prospect Heights. ... They're getting picked up in a limousine that'll take you downtown or other places."
Airport board Chairman D. Court Harris said there is no expectation or push by officials to lengthen any runways. He said there has been "a lot of misunderstanding" about the master plan initiative.
"As leaders entrusted with the governance of a community asset, it is incumbent on the CEA board of directors to establish goals and a vision that gives direction to our airport staff to maximize this asset for the benefit of the residents of both municipalities," Harris said. "The reasonable and responsible way to execute this is to complete a study that looks holistically at all aspects of the airport. This will give our municipal owners the proper data and analysis to have robust dialogue and make informed decisions."
Carroll also cited environmental concerns, such as more jet fuel fumes and airplane exhaust, if the main runway were lengthened and attracted more flights.
Harris said there always will be detractors of anything except the status quo.
"However, leaders have a responsibility to set the vision for an organization -- not just for the present, but for 20 to 30 years down the road," he said.
Carroll represents a district that includes portions of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Glenview, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Palatine, Prospect Heights and Wheeling.
Several opponents of the runway expansion concept voiced their concerns at a Mount Prospect village board meeting earlier this month.