U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D−Jackson Heights) and civic leaders urged the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider plans to build a 100−foot marine transfer station near LaGuardia Airport on the grounds the garbage would attract seagulls and make planes susceptible to bird strikes.
Crowley and the rest of the borough’s congressional delegation were opposed to the structure when it was first approved in 2006 because of concerns that the height of the transfer station and its proximity — 2,220 feet — to the airport’s runways could cause an air accident.
The congressman said the transfer station should be at least 10,000 feet from the area known as the runway protection zone, if not miles away.
“We were stunned to find out the city of New York received approval ... to build a 100−foot garbage tower so close to LaGuardia Airport,” he said.
But in the wake of US Airways Flight 1549, which landed on the Hudson River after birds struck the plane’s engines shortly after taking off from LaGuardia, Crowley said harm caused by the birds is his and his colleague’s main concern.
“In light of the near−tragic event of Jan.15, that is taking precedence now,” he said.
“We stand here today to ‘cry fowl,’ ” the congressman said during a Sunday news conference at LaGuardia’s Marine Air Terminal. “It is our hope that this will be a wake−up call to the FAA to re−examine their decision.”
Although the FAA said the transfer station and garbage trucks operating by the structure will be entirely closed, Crowley said he and his colleagues did not think that would be a sufficient remedy.
“We believe it’s nearly impossible to contain garbage entirely,” he said, noting that the smell would still attract birds.
Rosemarie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association of western Queens, said the transfer station was “another example of irresponsible government action.”
“Someone better tell the birds to get out of town,” she said. “This is an insane proposal.”
Giovanna Reid, district manager for Community Board 3, said the community was angered that the plan was not up for review by the board.
“We are very concerned that this proposal didn’t come before the community for input,” she said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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