Daley: Midway needs fixing up to be put on market; 'If you don't take care of your home, who would [buy it]?'

Move comes amidst initiative to privatize airport


If Mayor Daley is so determined to privatize Midway Airport, why is he spending nearly $284 million this year to fix it up?

That was the question Tuesday after the mayor unveiled a $2 billion capital-improvement program for 2007 with a host of Midway projects.

They include a consolidated rental car facility, elevated parking structure and security check-point improvements, automated roadfront de-icing, upper-level roadway improvements and revenue control equipment for the terminal garage.

"When we were thinking of privatizing the Skyway, we put an enormous amount of money in there. You have to. Otherwise, it deteriorates. Who wants a deteriorated infrastructure?

"It's not saleable. It's like your home. If you don't take care of your home, who would want to buy your home? You always have to invest in a public asset,'' Daley told a news conference at Mabel Manning library, 6 S. Hoyne.

The mayor had originally hoped to seal the Midway deal by Dec. 31 to generate billions to shore up city pensions and finance an array of public works projects.

But he acknowledged Tuesday that may not be possible.

'WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS'

Southwest and other airlines that must approve a Midway lease by a super-majority vote have demanded a share of the profits after paying to rebuild the Southwest Side airport.

They have also questioned whether a private operator could turn a profit without cutting back on maintenance and emergency services.

"The city of Chicago owns the land. It's a very complex and difficult financial transaction, a lot of legal questions about [it].

"It's taking much longer than, to be very frank, the Skyway," Daley said.

Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe added:

"I'm not going to commit to a time frame. But, I will tell you that we're making progress. . . . We're looking for the right solution."

fspielman@suntimes.com

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