The street honoring late activist Helen J. Mikols disappeared with the renovation of Midway Airport; Family fights to reclaim honor amid broken promises

CHICAGO (CBS) – All a suburban man wants for Christmas is to get his family back on the street.

Specifically, Robert Mikols wants Chicago to find a new place named after his aunt. The passenger embarkation and disembarkation lane at Midway International Airport was once called Helen J. Mikols Drive, but when Midway Airport was renovated, the street name disappeared.

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And CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov discovered that Robert Mikols’ decades-long fight involved many broken promises from the city.

Robert Mikols held up a Chicago street sign with his aunt’s name on it – and said the honor made him proud and happy. But those emotions tend to evaporate when he thinks about how the city has wronged his family.

“It was not right for the city to take it away and do nothing about it,” he said.

Helen Mikols was an activist on the Southwest Side 23rd Ward in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1984, after her death from cancer, Mayor Harold Washington signed a municipal resolution changing the name of Midway Airport Drive to Helen J. Mikols Drive .

It was not an honorary street name with a secondary brown sign, but a real renowned street with new official green signs. Robert Mikols fondly remembers the inauguration ceremony.

But when the city reconfigured Midway 15 years later, Helen J. Mikols Drive was wiped off the map. The reconfiguration of the airport with a new terminal that straddles Cicero Avenue resulted in the removal of the old pickup and drop-off lane that bore Ms Mikols’s name, and her name was not listed on the new one. .

“It hurt when they took it off,” said Robert Mikols. “It really is.”

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In a 1999 letter, U.S. Representative Bill Lipinski (D-Chicago) said he and Midway Airport Deputy Commissioner Erin O’Donnell would replace the honor. This promise has been broken.

“It’s the Chicago way,” said Robert Mikols.

The new Midway Terminal Building was completed in 2001. Once the new Midway was operational, Mikols began to contact the town and elected officials again – asking them when and if they could find a new location for his aunt’s street somewhere in the city. the region.

He said an elected official indicated that could happen if the official in question received something in return.

“Hey, you know, oil my palm a little – we’ll make sure.” I say, ‘OK,’ ”Mikols said. “So I said that to my uncle, and Joe said, ‘No, no way to give him money, because Helen would come out of her grave and kick my ass. “

From now on, Mikols renews his fight on principle.

“There must be somewhere,” he said.

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The city is looking into the matter.

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