Rockford airport responds to Natural Land Institute lawsuit, expansion project

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 12:27 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Paul Cicero, Chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority issues a letter talking more in-depth about the airport’s relationship to the Natural Land Institute. It reads as follows:

“I am writing on behalf of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority (the “Authority”). It has come to our attention through a federal lawsuit filed by you, that the Natural Land Institute believes that it has some form of contract or agreement with the Authority as it relates to certain property owned by the Authority. The Authority is not aware of any written agreement between Natural Land Institute and the Authority. However, if any such agreement does exist, notice is hereby given that any such contract or agreement is terminated effective immediately.”

This comes after the NLI files lawsuits regarding the airport’s $50 million cargo expansion project. This was going to initially include a detention basin planned to be built on the Bell Bowl Prairie. However, after response from environmentalist groups, the airport announced in October they are delaying the project and will redesign a portion of it.

Doing so will remove the proposed detention basin in the Bell Bowl Prairie. RFD is currently working with the FAA, IDNR and the USFWS to look further of any potential environmental impacts the project may or may not have. While this is going on, the construction of an approved roadway is on hold.

During this time, airport officials will limit access to the Bell Bowl Prairie being evaluated to protect it and ensure safety on airport property. Zach Oakley, Deputy Director of Operations and Planning for RFD says, “It’s important that we preserve the integrity of our own property, especially as we work with our governmental partners to complete all environmental consultation. We are entering the busiest season for cargo operations at the Airport. For the safety of all, we’re restricting any outside access to airport property.”

The expansion project is estimated to create hundreds of construction jobs, generate up to 600 permanent new jobs at the airport and continue the airport’s growth in cargo operations.

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