The vision of Clean Power Lake County is to build a sustainable community that promotes the healthy development of all Lake County communities, especially those most vulnerable, by addressing environmental racism, practicing participatory democracy, advancing self-determination, and empowering BIPOC community members. The proposed expansion of Waukegan National Airport, specifically to replace the current runway with one longer than runways used at Midway and Chicago Executive Airports, completely undermines this vision.
The Waukegan Port District, which owns and operates the airport, has failed to engage the public in a transparent process around impacts of the proposed expansion. Moreover, the municipal corporation failed to provide a thorough environmental impact statement for members of the public or the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) to review before asking it to approve the proposal.
For the planned expansion to proceed, the Port District needs to acquire 52 acres of designated public land entrusted to the LCFPD. This land is in a part of Lake County that has significantly less public green space than more affluent portions of the county, and where existing public lands have not been improved in ways that support public access. This area cannot afford to lose more green space.
Clean Power Lake County believes it would be a violation of public trust for the LCFPD to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Port District before the full environmental impact report is released and public hearings are held.
The people of Wadsworth, Zion, Beach Park, and Waukegan have the right to access complete and accurate information about this proposal and must be allowed to exercise their rights as community members who will experience the negative impacts of airport expansion.
The LCFPD has the responsibility to act in the best interests of both the people of Lake County and the green spaces entrusted to their care. Airport expansion is not urgent and does not require a rushed process. A change of this magnitude requires public engagement, transparency, and a thorough process.
The LCFPD must exercise its authority and require the Port District to demonstrate substantial value to the community, minimal negative environmental impacts, and assurance that there will be no loss of accessible green space in northeastern Lake County. Anything less would further erode the trust we place in our elected officials and jeopardize the future of our communities.