Will County needs an alternative to Peotone airport plan

Will County could lead a public-private partnership to consider the feasibility of turning the land into an agri-food, nutrition and conservation research and development center, board chair Judy Ogalla writes.

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This stretch of Eagle Lake Road near Peotone is within the boundaries of a long-proposed airport.

This stretch of Eagle Lake Road near Peotone is within the boundaries of a long-proposed airport. An alternative plan would benefit the region, Will County Board Chair Ogalla writes.

Sun-Times Media

The Sun-Times’ April 30 editorial —“Lawmakers shouldn’t rush to spend more money on flawed Peotone Airport plan” — gives sound reasons for opposing a bill moving through the General Assembly.

HB2531 would require the Illinois Department of Transportation “to pursue proposals within six months from developers interested in building a Peotone cargo airport.” The editorial also notes, “Gov. J.B. Pritzker ... wants assurance cargo carriers would use Peotone before he climbs aboard the idea.”

Kudos to the governor for having a realistic view. As a businessman, he understands that building something that won’t be used is a waste of tax dollars.

The governor’s decision-making would benefit from an informed set of choices, including the prospect of reinvesting in prime farmland that an airport would destroy. Will County farmland is a renewable resource that can produce economic, environmental, and social benefits for generations.

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If the recent pandemic taught us anything, it’s to not take our food supply for granted.

If state lawmakers are intent on supporting the search for a cargo airport developer, they should fund a concurrent locally-led study to determine alternative uses for IDOT-owned land in the proposed airport “footprint.” Options could include investing in local sustainable agricultural production and meat-processing; returning land to private ownership/property tax rolls; deeding treed land acreage to the Will County Forest Preserve; and providing education, training, and land access to young farmers

Will County could lead a public-private partnership to consider the feasibility of turning those seven square miles of land into an agri-food, nutrition and conservation research and development center.

This initiative would build on the assets of eastern Will County’s thriving agricultural community. A smart ag investment strategy should focus on land uses that help improve public health, soil health, water quality and local economies.

To be equitable, Illinois should provide a $1.4 million grant for this study. That’s the equivalent in purchasing power of the $500,000 state grant that initiated Peotone airport planning in 1985.

There’s no doubt that an alternative plan would benefit the region and give back to residents the quality of life they sought in living there.

Judy Ogalla, Will County Board Chair

Forget the ‘old ways’ of immigration

This is a response to Larry Craig of Wilmette and his “What about the old ways of doing immigration?” from his copy of a 1949 textbook on government.

Craig’s contention that “we should know who is coming in” to the country is correct. I can tell you that immigration, as we know it now, knows 10 times as much as in 1949, when they had no computers and very few immigration officers to do legwork besides trying an overseas call to another country to get information. It was basically the honor system, and when people decided to stay without permission, there was no paper trail of credit card charges, internet searches, etc. So, they stuck it out and lived here.

In 1950, most of the immigrants were coming from (white) European nations and now, of course, with other, non-white countries experiencing corrupt government and rampant killings, we are seeing immigrants fleeing from (non-white) Asian and South American and Central American countries, and yes, México. But remember, the U.S. is also going through rampant killings, and even an attempted coup on Jan 6., just like other third-world countries.

It might behoove people like Craig to remember they are not the original residents of this land.

Mike Tafoya, New Orleans

Rep. Hauter’s misinformation on pregnancy centers

Regarding the May 8 opinion piece by state Rep. Bill Hauter concerning “pro-abortion extremists,” I became curious and pulled up Senate Bill 1909, which he characterizes as designed to harass and intimidate pregnancy care centers (PCC). What I found reading both the synopsis and the bill itself was a very clearly worded document whose intent is to prevent PCCs and similar entities from promulgating misrepresentations and false information regarding issues related to pregnancy and abortion.

Looking into this issue in more detail, I found that there have been reports of such organizations providing incorrect information regarding the health risks associated with both abortion and childbirth, as well as other pertinent issues. It does not surprise me that such incidents occur, given the emotionally charged atmosphere in the ongoing struggle that women face in securing their reproductive rights.

What particularly concerns me regarding Hauter is how he neglected to provide a comprehensive description of the bill’s text and simply provided his own characterization, which appears to distort its true intent.

Such behavior on the part of one of our legislators, in my opinion, further supports the need to have legislation that addresses the potential for mischaracterization of these issues either through omission of critical information and the promulgation of misinformation.

Marvin Kirshenbaum, West Ridge

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