The FAA has issued what I presume to be a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty assessing a civil penalty of $33,000.00 against the city of Chicago for its after-midnight destruction of Meigs Field. According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, the city was required to give the FAA 30-days notice before it closed Meigs Field and the $33,000.00 fine is $1,100.00 a day for every day the city failed to give notice. Apparently the City has not yet determined whether it will request a hearing on the proposed civil penalty or if it will simply pay the fine. Interestingly, the issue of whether the City improperly diverted federal funds for demolition of Meigs Field is still being investigated.
Personally, I am glad to see that the FAA didn’t back down. Unfortunately, the civil penalty is minimal in the grand scheme of things and the City may simply pay the penalty and chock it up as a cost of doing business. I am more curious to see where the investigation ends up regarding the City’s use of federal funds to demolish Meigs Field. Although the City has taken the position that its use of the funds was appropriate, I am not sure how demolition of an airport with no intent to enhance or expand existing aviation sturctures can be characterized as a legitimate use of airport improvement funds. Hopefully the FAA will cite the City for its actions and pursue civil penalties for that violation as well. If it does, I would expect the City to put up a fight given the $1,500,000.00 price tag. We will see.