Saturday, December 15, 2012

LaGuardia Airport (KLGA), New York: Northeast Queens Elected Officials, Residents Protest Airplane Noise

Residents from Bayside and Douglaston joined northeast Queens elected officials for a large rally Saturday to protest a noisy flight pattern out of LaGuardia Airport that began early last summer.

Earlier this month, elected officials representing northeast Queens said they were upset that the route now appeared to be permanent and the Federal Aviation Administration had still not met with community leaders.

“They promised they would have a follow-up meeting after the six-month test period was over,” said State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, who organized the weekend protest in front of his Bayside office. “Ten days ago, we learned that the FAA did some kind of environmental review and released what is known as a categorical exclusion, which means that no further study is necessary. This is not acceptable. Some people have lived in this community for generations and we’re not going to let their quality of life be destroyed.”

The FAA could not be immediately reached for comment.

Last summer, residents of Bayside and Douglaston said the flight pattern resulted in planes flying over their communities every minute of the day.

Elected officials had been told that the route was part of a test period and that public comment would be solicited once it was completed.

But community leaders said they were never given the opportunity to voice their complaints.

“Three months ago, I didn’t know what a contour study was – and why should I?” said Janet McEneaney, a Community Board 11 member who led a local charge to prevent the pattern from becoming permanent. “We never had a public comment period. And now I’m told it’s over. I think we need to have a seat at the table.”

U.S. Rep.-elect Grace Meng said airplane noise had been the key issue she had spoken to northeast Queens residents about during her recent campaign.

“The FAA’s mission says that it needs to be accountable to the public, but they are not doing that right now,” she said.

State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, said the frequency of planes over northeast Queens has made life miserable for many of its denizens.

“This is not a minor inconvenience,” he said. “People can’t talk on the phone or watch TV. We are not going to quit on this.”

Avella said he was still attempting to set up a meeting with the FAA. This coming week, he will meet with the Port Authority following his recent introduction of a bill that would require noise studies to be conducted prior to allowing new flight patterns.

“This has everything to do with economics and corporate greed,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “They want more planes taking off from LaGuardia Airport.”

Avella said the communities affected by the flight pattern include Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Flushing, Bay Terrace and Whitestone.

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