Village drops legal challenge of O'Hare expansion

April 23, 2009 9:18:37 PM PDT
One of the key opponents battling the O'Hare expansion project is giving up. The suburb of Elk Grove Village is dropping its legal challenge.

The mayor of Elk Grove Village says the re-routing of a road made all the difference.

It has been a 40 year fight. And now, it's essentially over.

Elk Grove Village threw in the towel on Thursday, dropping its legal battle over the O'Hare expansion project.

Village officials took the step after learning that a new road will not be built through Elk Grove's industrial community.

"Chicago has not taken our community. We have been successful to prevent that from occurring," said Mayor Craig Johnson, Elk Grove Village.

And with that, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, stood side by side with village leaders, and declared that the community successfully stopped a plan to put a road through Elk Grove Village's business park.

Other routes are now being considered to provide western access to the airport.

"It gave us a chance through the public process to put the roadway in a location that we can support," said Johnson.

The mayor says the new road will not go through the village's industrial community. And, according to the mayor, that will save businesses, job and millions of tax dollars.

This latest turn essentially signals a new era for the O'Hare expansion project for Elk Grove Village and Bensenville where homes are vacant to make way for the expansion.

Next month, Bensenville's new village president-elect will take over. He was swept into office, emphasizing the village must open the door to negotiate and look toward ending several lawsuits.

"The nature of the battle has long since changed. In this case, we've spent over $20 million over the fight. There isn't anything that they've ever shown for it," said Frank Soto, Bensenville president-elect.

Soto will soon replace John Geils who worked closely with Johnson to fight the expansion project. Johnson says, one day, history will remember the two.

"Some day down the road, some people will look back and say, 'you know what? Those two mayors were right,'" said Johnson.

Mayor Johnson's harshest criticism was for the city of Chicago. He said Chicago has every right to do what it wants within its own borders. But not when it comes to other villages. And given this experience, Johnson says Elk Grove Village will remain cautious and alert, ready to protect its turf and interests when necessary.


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