Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek and village board members lent a sympathetic ear this week to residents who could be affected by a proposed runway extension at Chicago Executive Airport.
"This is a case where not only do we hear you, we agree with all of you on much of this," Juracek told residents Tuesday.
Juracek is a member of the stakeholder involvement group taking part in the airport's master planning process. The airport is working on its first master plan update in 30 years, and among the proposals is extending the main 5,000-foot runway to between 5,700 and 6,700 feet.
Backers of the proposal say the expansion is needed to bring longer-distance flights to the airport, which in turn would boost fuel sales.
"As it has been explained to me, there is no done deal," Juracek said. "Obviously there are desires, especially of the commercial entities that work up at the airport."
Trustee Richard Rogers, a member of the Airport Noise Committee for Chicago Executive Airport, said he is firmly against an extension and encouraged residents to make their opposition known at the airport board's meetings.
"I would suggest if you really want to get your voice heard, come out to the meetings. Fill that room to capacity," he said.
The airport is jointly owned by the village of Wheeling and city of Prospect Heights, so Mount Prospect has no vote when it comes to expansion. But residents urged the village to take an active role in opposing it.
"A longer runway will only open a Pandora's box to even bigger planes," said resident Karen Giambalvo, who suggested the village form a committee to identify ways to oppose expansion and keep residents updated.
Steve Neff, who lives north of the airport in Wheeling, warned that extending the runway would displace taxpaying businesses and residents with a tax-exempt runway.
"There is really not a good benefit for the residents," he said. "This is all about the special interests. This was all about people being able to take a flight nonstop to Hong Kong or Dubai, when there are alternative airports nearby."
Resident Gregg Shriber said the expansion could affect the value of 1,500 houses within an area bounded by Wolf Road, Old Willow Road, Euclid Avenue and River Road.
Mount Prospect officials say they plan to dedicate a future committee-of-the-whole meeting to the airport issue. Jamie Abbott, the airport's executive director, has been invited to the meeting, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at Burning Bush Trails Park.