When City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) convened a town hall meeting to address the sudden increase in airplane noise from LaGuardia Airport, he was hoping to inform the community how best to complain to authorities.
He was pleased to see representatives of the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration attend along with 100 Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst residents.
“They appeared willing to work with the community with a more transparent approach,” Dromm said.
The meeting took place Monday night at PS 69, at 72-02 37th Ave. to discuss the dramatic increase in airplane traffic since October, when the FAA rerouted flights into and out of LaGuardia without any notice to the community.
“We saw low-flying planes every 30 seconds for 12 straight hours,” Dromm said. “It became a quality-of-life problem and I wanted the community to know how they could self-advocate.”
The changes in flight patterns were started with a new program the FAA is using called NextGen. The system employs global-positioning satellites that allow for more frequent takeoffs and landings. The FAA’s website says the program “enhances safety, reduces delays, saves fuel, and reduces aircraft exhaust emissions.”
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined the meeting because his District 11 in northeast Queens shares the same concerns.
“The FAA said they were going to test the new routes for six months and monitor the response, but they never told anyone how to respond,” he said.
Leaders of Queens Quiet Skies, a community advocacy group formed in northeast Queens, showed how other cities enjoy better results from noise monitoring systems and community interaction through roundtable discussion groups.
Queens Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney said “other cities have roundtables, why don’t we? It’s about time that they understand that we live here. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Quiet Skies Vice President Robert Whitehair, a pilot himself, detailed the shortcomings.
“Chicago’s O’Hare [Airport] has 40 permanent noise monitors — we have two at LaGuardia. Most big cities have roundtables and they are effective. In Los Angeles they got the FAA to change flights 1,000 feet higher over the beaches,” he said.
Mark Guiod, manager of the FAA’s New York Terminal Radar Approach Control, cut short a family vacation in Connecticut to lead an FAA delegation to Dromm’s town hall meeting and he promised better community involvement through roundtables in the near future.
“This is the beginning of a dialogue,” Guiod said. “The roundtables will be a great help for both parties.”
There were additional promises from Ian Van Praagh, of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which manages LaGuardia Airport.
“We’ve heard many calls from Jackson Heights,” said Van Praagh.
He said a new website would roll out in January, a permanent noise monitoring system based on the Los Angeles model, and an automated telephone hotline — 1-800-225-1071 — is being set up to log noise complaints.
Jackson Heights is experiencing a real estate boom with the best third-quarter apartment sales in five years, a 43 percent improvement over last year, according to Beaudoin Realty Group.
While he did not think airplane noise would scare off new residents, Dromm said, “It’s too desirable a neighborhood so I don’t think it will effect real estate, we want to make sure people remain attracted to this neighborhood and I think this meeting helped nip it (airplane noise) in the bud.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community News Group
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