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Parks alliance wants to put brakes on JFK runway plan

Barbara Brown, chairwoman of the Eastern Queens Alliance, reads off questions to be considered by the groups during an antiviolence workshop. Photo by Christina Santucci
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

The public comment period on a proposal to extend a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport closer to Idlewild Park closed two months ago, and one open-space group is calling on the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to halt its plans until its voice is heard.

In order to conform with a congressional mandate, the Port Authority is planning to provide larger safety areas on each end of the 4L-22R runway, which runs in a southwest-northeast direction from Jamaica Bay inland.

The southern end of runway 4L abuts the federally protected lands of the Gateway National Recreation Area, so in order to provide it with the required 1,000-foot safety area, the plan calls for extending the opposite end of the 22R runway 728 feet toward Brookville and Springfield Gardens on the other side of Idlewild Park.

“That extension is bringing the runway that much closer to a residential community,” said Barbara Brown, chairwoman of Eastern Queens Alliance, a group formed to preserve the parks around JFK. “We have a number of concerns about the airport in general, such as noise level and air pollution.”

The 22R end of the runway is primarily used for departures and the Port Authority is looking to relocate the infrastructure at that end in preparation for the work by the end of 2013, according to its draft plan.

The Port Authority published notice of a 30-day public-comment period on the plan in Newsday May 14.

Brown said she thought the notice was inadequate.

“Our most immediate concern is that no one was notified. They’re obligated to get comments from the communities most affected,” she said. “That hasn’t been done.”

A spokesman for the Port Authority, however, said the “timing of the comment period and public notice was in accordance with FAA requirements.”

Brown said she contacted U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (D-Jamaica) office requesting that he take action to have the public comment period reopened.

“In the meantime,” she said, “we’re asking for a moratorium on further progress until such time that the community weighs in.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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