O'HARE — Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino should resign or be fired for her handling of noise complaints prompted by by jets using O'Hare International Airport's new runway, a coalition of civic groups and elected officials said Monday.
The Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition — an organization that has been protesting the changes for 14 months — said Andolino and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have ignored complaints that the new flight pattern has significantly lowered the quality of life in many Far Northwest Side neighborhoods that had little to no jet noise before the new east-west runway opened last fall.
"What does it take in a democracy for an appointed official to say 'I better take a real look at this?'" said Jac Charlier, a member of the group's leadership team. "It is just a disgrace."
Heather Cherone chats with DNAinfo Radio about one group's concerns regarding O'Hare noise:
If Andolino does not step down, she should be fired by Emanuel, according to the group.
A spokeswoman for Andolino did not respond to messages seeking a response, nor did a spokesman for Emanuel.
Part of the $6.6 billion O'Hare Modernization Plan, approved in 2001, the new runway, which opened Oct. 17, allows planes to take off heading west, while arriving planes approach the airport from the east.
Federal Aviation Administration officials have said the new runway configuration will be safer and more efficient, especially during bad weather at O'Hare. Before the new runway opened, most planes used O'Hare's diagonal runways, which often forced the planes to cross paths on the ground.
The group, which is made up of 17 civic organizations and has letters of support from seven aldermen and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, has repeatedly asked Andolino and Emanuel to meet with them to discuss the impact of the additional jet noise, which members said has polluted their neighborhoods and reduced the quality of their lives.
“We need to have a real conversation,” Charlier said. “We can’t even get to disagreement because they won’t meet with us. They don’t even bother to say no.”
From March 2013 to March 2014, the number of complaints filed about jet noise rose 645 percent.
The group has repeatedly asked officials to spread landing and departing plans more equitably among the airport's runways to prevent Norwood Park, Sauganash, Forest Glen, Edgebrook, Jefferson Park and North Park from bearing the brunt of the jet noise.
Andolino rejected a request from Quigley to spread out arrivals and departures among all of the airport runways, saying it would "simply displace noise impacts from one neighborhood to another.''
In addition, Andolino rejected Quigley's call to extend the hours of the airport's voluntary "fly quiet" program, which urges planes to choose flight paths over less-populated areas, such as forest preserves and expressways, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The program should start at 9 p.m., according to the congressman.
Expanding the program would change the schedules of too many flights, Andolino said.
The people of Chicago are entitled to a dialogue with their elected officials, Charlier said.
“Her job is to respond to the people first, not the mayor,” Charlier said.