Local Voices: Recent letter to Congresswoman Robin Kelly

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Local Voices

Bob Malkas

I don’t think this information will be approved for the Journal, and I will understand. But I like to keep people posted on what I have been doing. This is an April 19, 2022, letter to Congresswoman Robin Kelly:

Over 40 years ago I appointed myself guardian of the Village of Lansing’s recent purchase of the Chicago-Hammond Airport and made a personal commitment to the residents of my adopted community that I would ensure them that I would take on the crusade to make it successful.

I did not have any special talents to achieve the results that turned Lansing Municipal Airport at that time into one of the best managed reliever airports in Illinois that ultimately would receive special reorganization from the Illinois Division of Aeronautics for the progress that had been achieved as of 2008.

The “miracle” came about because Lansing followed to the letter Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stipulations detailing the correct course of action to be eligible for federal grants. That policy decision was rewarded with over 35 million dollars in grants to fund needed land acquisitions for future development, the extension of its 2,400-foot runway, and the construction of a second 4,000-foot runway, just to name a few of the projects that were to come.

When the Village acquired the airport in 1976, it inherited the Ford Hangar, which was at that time the center of all aviation activities and the Village’s main source of revenue.

In 2011, airport management for an unspecified reason adopted a different approach. It was decided that the Lansing Municipal Airport would no longer be considering the needs of the aviation community first; it would from then on be more concerned with instituting non-aeronautical pursuits without revealing any other plan of action. Instead, an unneeded Ford Hangar Foundation was appointed to determine how the airport should proceed. That plan was already being followed and was successful.

After my retirement I repeatedly tried to inform airport officials that they were moving in a wrong direction by not following federally mandated Special Assurances for the FAA to be able to participate in future airport development projects. This advice was disregarded.

In August, 2018, the Village initiated an action plan to get the FAA to have Lansing Municipal Airport be released from FAA obligations — Resolution 1069. According to Village records that request was approved.

What is extremely troubling is that your office helped to implement that request. The result of the action has been devastating for the residents and taxpayers of Lansing because the Ford Hangar has not provided the airport with any revenue since 2015. It is still vacant today.

Airport projected revenues for 2011 show that for that year Associated Air Activities (AAA) — the fixed-base operator that leased the building from the Village — would be paying over $50,000 in fees for the use of it. After being in business for 30 years the Village evicted AAA from the building for non-payment of rent.

For more than ten-years I have been writing a history of the village and its airport. Part 3 of Present at the Creation follows the history of how the Village managed the Ford Hangar. Resolution 1069 is addressed in the narrative, and, to be completely accurate, I want to include your reasons for advancing the change of direction, if you choose to supply them.

Your constituents are asking you to intercede once again with the FAA, but this time for a different reason. Inform them that Lansing taxpayers are tired of subsidizing an airport that has participated in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for more than 40 years. The system was never meant to work that way.

TIPs were initiated to provide sponsors of regional airports with funding to develop them so that they could pay for their operational needs and allow the United States aviation network to be advanced. The program was intended to advance local economies also, not detract from them.

Until 2008 the Lansing Municipal Airport was moving in that direction. The airport was awarded over 35 million dollars for projects to continue its development and to place it in a position to achieve financial self-sufficiency.

To support our request to you, Lansing is providing two newspaper articles that will explain the Village’s dilemma. There is also an official document that explains the airport’s anticipated annual revenues for 2011. I am providing you with a history of periodic TIPs submittals that will picture what was to happen as the Lansing Municipal Airport continued in the TIPs program.

It is easy to see that the extension of the 4,000-foot north-south runway is what is needed to put Lansing back on the road to success. That has been the goal for the last ten years. The latest plan put this off until 2026.

I don’t know if Lansing taxpayers can wait that long.

This is not the first time Lansing has asked for assistance from your office. In the 1980s a letter was sent to Congressman George O’Brien asking him to intercede with the FAA to begin funding the Lansing Municipal Airport, and Administrator Helms put the airport on the FAA’s radar.

Congressman Jerry Weller understood what was needed in 1997 and also found additional funding to purchase the additional land needed to build a second runway.

Bob Malkas, Retired Manager, Lansing Municipal Airport


Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.

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