"The current grant program expires Sept. 30, '07," Oliver said. "Beyond that, the grant funding program is unknown. We don't know what we'll see."
If the 38-year-old Monticello Airport continues to operate, the new facility will not be constructed, said Susan Shea, director of the aeronautics division of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Federal regulations prohibit construction of an airport within a 30-minute drive of a current airport.
Steven Long, state DOT acting bureau chief of aviation safety and engineering, was asked if the state is on board for 2Ã‚Â½ percent of the new construction costs, as the city officials believe. Long said there is no state money available for airport construction. An airport construction program was discontinued in 2003.
"Now there is no state/local program," Long said.
Brad Hamilton is project manager for Springfield-based Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, the consulting engineering firm that has guided Monticello through the airport process. It has been paid $135,000 for two studies. It was also to take on an $80,000 environmental study, but the council tabled it April 10.
Hamilton said he did not tell the city he was optimistic about obtaining the funding, but told city officials it would be an uphill climb.
City officials, who were apparently optimistic, pursued the goal of a new airport with the hope of attracting new development to Monticello.
MaryJo Hetrick, the city's economic development director, explained that businesses that might locate in Monticello could have corporate jets, which require long, hardened runways.
"When we first talked about doing an airport, we had talked about doing a business air park around it," she said.
To attract new businesses, the project was expanded from a 240-acre airport to a 600- to 900-acre facility with a business and commercial park, adjacent to 900 acres of annexed farmland.
Several area residents were shocked to hear of the plan.
Clarence and LeAndra Vogelzang, tenant farmers whose land would be at the heart of the airport, said they have lost much sleep worrying about losing their livelihood, home and way of life. They helped form a group to advocate for better government, Monticello Sensible Growth.
With almost all of the landowners at the two sites saying they would not sell their land and several city council members saying they would not employ eminent domain, it is unclear how city officials expected to obtain the land.
But Floyd Allsop, city services director, said he considers eminent domain an option.
"In the back of our minds, that's available," he said. "The point is, this mayor and council is not pro-eminent domain. This city staff is not pro-eminent domain."
Allsop blamed the demise of the project on the city council member who made the site selection map public.
"We kind of had a process we were following," he said. "Unfortunately, someone stepped in and adjusted that process for us. The change or adjustment of the process has created a lot of uncertainty."
Hetrick added: "We were a long way away from presenting it to the public."
It was the threat of closing the 18-acre facility on the city's southern border that led to plans for a new airport
The city plans to use the land, which is located directly behind the airport, both to expand the airport's runway by 1,000 feet and to create an aviation easement.
Salt Lake City Council cast a unanimous vote Tuesday to initiate eminent domain against the property owners in order to tap federal money to upgrade the city's Tooele Valley Airport
A handful of landowners will need to give up their land for the project to go forward, but the council only started the process on the two parcels owned by Six Mile Ranch.