Baysiders vow FAA flight fight just beginning

Photo by Phil Corso
By Phil Corso

Baysiders sounded off over flight noise at this week’s Community Board 11 meeting, declaring the fight was only beginning.

As she had done in several meetings over recent months, board member Janet McEneany stood up Monday night to rally her community against the Federal Aviation Administration’s revised departure and landing patterns, which has made LaGuardia Airport a noisy neighbor. Citing widespread political support dating back to the summer, she reminded the board that there was still work to be done.

“It’s not over. The real work is just beginning,” McEneany said.

Borough leaders gathered in Bayside late last month in their latest push against the FAA, committing to a hard-fought battle to preserve the air and noise quality in northeast Queens.

McEneany said she hoped to shift gears and put political pressure on the Port Authority, which oversees the city’s airports, with help from several state elected officials, including Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Earlier this year, the CB 11 member helped organize her own northeast Queens coalition of residents concerned with the increase in flight noise and has continued to work alongside similar groups in areas, such as nearby Nassau County, to coordinate their efforts.

Avella had met with the Port Authority in mid-December, according to spokesman Xavier San Miguel, to discuss legislation he had proposed that would require them to conduct noise and land use compatibility surveys and public hearings on aircraft noise. The senator said he was scheduled to meet with the FAA as early as next week to discuss how to proceed.

“Frankly, it is a disgrace the FAA has decided to go ahead with these departure changes, which will have a profound effect on the residents in northeastern Queens, without the proper input from the community,” Avella said. “My office continues to hear from homeowners who are irate at this abrupt increase in air traffic over their homes, which is causing an intolerable amount of noise pollution. Any new flight patterns need to be properly evaluated to determine the impact on the quality of life for residents.”

In other announcements at Monday night’s CB 11 meeting, Chairman Jerry Iannece discussed some residents’ curiosity towards the idea of utility Consolidated Edison coming into northeast Queens and moving power lines underground in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which downed countless trees and electricity poles.

Iannece said the move was unlikely, as it would cost $5 million to $6 million per mile to put the lines underground as well as $7,500 per household to connect to the new system.

The idea has received support from residents throughout northeast Queens — even before the storm, but Iannece said the cost was ultimately a determining factor.

“Personally, I think they should pay for it,” Iannece said. “They have a monopoly, so I think that they have a responsibility.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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