A group of Bayside activists celebrated a small victory this week in an ongoing fight against airplane noise plaguing their northeast Queens communities, showing they had the ears of their federal elected officials.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined with federal colleagues — two of whom have district offices in Queens — in calling on the Port Authority to install more noise monitors around areas affected most by flight noise. The push came after more than a year of community outrage over revised flight patterns coming out of LaGuardia Airport, which was only given four monitors to collect noise data, compared to 10 relaying data to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The officials urged the Port Authority to enlist help from the Federal Aviation Administration to get more noise monitors on the ground to collect data and more accurately assess the impact of air traffic in the metropolitan area.
“Noise monitors are so under-utilized in the New York tri-state area, which is home to three of the nation’s busiest airports,” Schumer said. “Other major airports in the country, like Boston and Los Angeles, use upwards of 30 each, and we only have 14 between our two largest airports.”
The Port Authority recently launched a new website providing more detailed assessments of airport noise, but the federal officials contended that the data would not be truly accurate unless more noise monitors are placed on the ground.
“We know that airplane noise is impacting local communities. But I want critical technologies like more noise monitors in place to track it,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville). “With that detailed information and by making it public, the Port Authority and FAA can work with the community to reach a resolution to this quality-of- life issue for my constituents.”
For the better part of the past year, residents of northeast Queens have assembled a full-fledged activist group known as Queens Quiet Skies, which has been working closely with elected officials and the FAA to address flight noise. Founder Janet McEneaney has been at the forefront of the movement and sent an e-mail to her membership celebrating a victory in one of the group’s core goals.
“I am proud of all of us and what we’ve accomplished together in less than a year,” McEneaney said.
Residents and officials first started reporting drastic upticks in airplane noise over communities like Bayside and Little Neck after the FAA started testing new flight paths out of LaGuardia Airport. The crux of their outrage stemmed from the FAA issuing a categorical exclusion, which in essence allowed the agency to excuse itself from conducting a thorough environmental impact assessment when issuing new flight patterns.
“It’s outrageous that New York’s airports are not equipped with the same number of monitors that are being used by other airports around the country,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing). “It is critical to obtain the most accurate and reliable information on noise levels in order for officials to come up with a plan to alleviate it.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.