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Gresser calls on LGA to be better neighbor

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Former Board of Education President Carol Gresser has called for changes at LaGuardia Airport to allow thousands of Queens residents “to sleep at night and enjoy their homes.”

“When I decided about a year ago to run for borough president,” Gresser said at a news conference Tuesday, “I spent a lot of time traveling throughout Queens and talking to people.

“They told me of the problems caused by LaGuardia Airport,” she said. “They said that LaGuardia was not a good neighbor.”

The Democratic candidate called on the Federal Aviation Administration, the Port Authority and the federal government to make changes at LaGuardia to make life easier for the thousands who must endure the noise from landings and takeoffs.

“We want to see changes at this airport to allow the people of Queens to sleep at night and enjoy their homes,” she said.

Gresser said permanent cutbacks in the number of flights at LaGuardia was imperative along with quieter planes and redesigned flight routing.

“LaGuardia has long provided services to those coming in and out of New York and economic benefits to the city,” Gresser told a news briefing in the garden outside the Marine Air Terminal of LaGuardia as planes roared overhead.

“But local residents have suffered most of the airport’s negative effect. It’s time to make changes at LaGuardia that improve these residents’ quality of life.”

Gresser lives in Douglaston in northeast Queens where LaGuardia is the source of frequent complaints about airplane noise.

“The FAA recently released a study that showed that there are more flights in and out of LaGuardia than the airport can handle, resulting in flights after the 11 p.m. curfew,” she said. “During inclement weather the capacity of the airport drops even further, but the number of flights scheduled do not.”

Gresser said another part of the problem was that planes often fly directly over residential neighborhoods when they should be directed to fly over commercial and industrial areas, highway, parks and waterways.

“The people of Queens have suffered for too long from the noise of this overscheduled airport,” Gresser said. “The Port Authority and Federal Aviation Administration have yet to attend to the concerns of the local residents who have one simple demand: ‘let us sleep.’”

Gresser was accompanied by Seymour Schwartz, president of the Briarwood Community Association, and Sally Kahn of Sane Aviation For Everyone (SAFE), an activist group seeking relief from aircraft noise.

Schwartz said a problem for Queens residents was that most government agencies involved with LaGuardia are working with a view toward increasing rather than decreasing the number of flights.

Gresser is director of the Institute for School Board Leadership at Teachers College of Columbia University and adjunct professor of education at St. John's University. In the 1990s she was the Queens representative to the Board of Ed and president of the citywide board.

She is running against three fellow Democrats for the nomination for borough president. There is one Republican candidate in the race.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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