Queens Quiet Skies hi-fives roundtables

By Kelsey Durham

Members of Queens Quiet Skies were feeling optimistic about the results of the first set of roundtable meetings that took place last week between New York’s major airports and the advocacy group fighting to reduce airplane noise throughout the borough.

Two meetings were held last week, the first at LaGuardia Airport and the second at John F. Kennedy International Airport, to bring together Federal Aviation Administration officials, Port Authority representatives and members of the group to discuss what many residents throughout the borough say is an ever-increasing problem with airplane noise in their communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in March that ordered the Port Authority to begin taking part in the roundtables, among a series of other steps he mandated that would address airplane noise.

Originally, Queens Quiet Skies asked the Port Authority to hold one roundtable with both major airports, but the agency instead opted to separate the two, which Quiet Skies says it will continue to address as an issue at upcoming meetings.

“It’s unyielding to have two roundtables,” said Andy Rothman, a Bayside resident who attended both sessions on behalf of Community Board 11. “Our goal is to get rid of the noise, not shift it from one community to another.”

Each of the roundtables had community representation from residents who were invited to take part in the discussions, which included several concerns Queens Quiet Skies has brought up in recent months about certain flight pattern changes and how these shifts affect their communities in northeast Queens.

“We weren’t really sure how it would go, but it turned out to be a very progressive meeting,” said Rothman. “It wasn’t just an in-depth discussion of our problems, but it was about where we’re going to go from here.”

A noise study known as Part 150, which Cuomo also ordered the Port Authority to conduct as part of his legislation to address noise concerns, was one of the hot topics of discussion at the JFK meeting April 30, according to Queens Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney, who also serves on CB 11.

The Port Authority is now in the process of interviewing companies to conduct the study, and McEneaney said her group was disappointed last week when its request to have input in the decision-making process was denied.

McEneaney said the roundtable also addressed opening a noise office in New York City to field complaints from residents about nearby airplane noise, a task the Port Authority has not yet completed despite months of waiting from the community.

With the first two meetings now complete, McEneaney said Queens Quiet Skies believes it is making progress in combatting the increase in noise levels in several Queens neighborhoods.

The next set of roundtables will be scheduled for some time in June, she said, and the members of Queens Quite Skies are looking ahead to more compromise with the agencies they have battled with in the past.

“We had to drag the Port Authority kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but I have to say, now that they’re doing this, I’m very impressed,” McEneaney said. “I feel very encouraged and I think we’re on the right track. We have a great opportunity to give the community a seat at the table, and if we don’t end up having a successful roundtable, it won’t be for lack of trying.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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