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The group of Bayside activists hoping to silence the growing nuisance of airliner noise in their backyards has come a long way in a short time since its formation late last year.
The Queens Quiet Skies organization has been holding regular open meetings to keep up their fight with the Federal Aviation Administration after they flight noise grew louder in their neighborhoods.
Group founder and Community Board 11 member Janet McEneaney said she has remained in close contact with various northeast Queens elected officials, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), to show the agency that Queens will not go quietly.
“When we first started this organization last fall, I thought it would just be a matter of time before we wrote enough letters to fix the problem,” McEneaney said. “I didn’t understand then that we are dealing with deeply entrenched procedures and attitudes that will take time and effort to change.”
The group held several meetings in recent months, fully stocked with presentations and elected officials to discuss key elements of FAA and Port Authority policies affecting their communities.
“I am cautiously optimistic now that we can make those changes happen,” McEneaney said. “We have been working closely with a task force assembled by Sen. Avella on a long-term strategy as well as dealing with more immediate situations as they arise.”
Queens Quiet Skies was an integral player in the organizing of a face-to-face meeting with FAA representatives in March, which packed the Bay Terrace Jewish Center with community leaders and concerned residents. Elected officials have since been meeting with the federal agency to discuss flight patterns and policy matters with hopes to find alternatives to quiet the skies.
The crux of the FAA fight revolves around why residents were reporting more airplane noise than they were used to as early as last summer. FAA representatives, including Eastern Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo, have said the noise stemmed from a testing phase to gather flight path data.
Despite accusations from state representatives and community leaders, the FAA has consistently denied claims that the airline industry was influencing plane traffic, saying the ultimate goal was to reduce delays and fuel costs.
When she first sought to form Queens Quiet Skies, McEneany said she drew inspiration from neighboring communities which have already sparred with the FAA over airliner noise, including a similar Nassau County group established years ago. Moving forward, she said she hopes the newfound Queens activists’ voices can add strength to the cause.
“It would be foolish to pretend that this is not going to be a long, hard struggle,” McEneany said. “But having learned how others have done it elsewhere, I believe we have an excellent chance of prevailing in the end. We’ll never turn back the clock — the 21st century is here to stay. But Queens residents are stakeholders in aviation planning and management and should be treated as such.”
Anyone interested in joining Queens Quiet Skies can e-mail the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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