Civics consider one or two roundtables for air noise fight

By Juan Soto

Advocates and residents fighting to mitigate jet noise and pollution around the borough’s two major airports are trying to decide whether the Port Authority, the state agency that manages both, should create one or two roundtables to discuss the problems generated at JFK and LaGuardia airports.

In southeast Queens, affected mainly by JFK, neighbors and elected officials prefer one Aviation Community Roundtable for each airport, but northeast Queens, home to LaGuardia, insists on having just one to unify the efforts brought up to the Federal Aviation Administration and the PA.

The issue was discussed during a roundtable meeting at York College Nov. 20. This meeting followed two others held in June and in August.

Another metropolitan major airport, Newark International Airport, has its own Aviation Community Roundtable.

“We should have separate roundtables,” said Barbara Brown, chairwoman of the Eastern Queens Alliance, a federation of civic associations from southeast Queens. “There are airport specific issues, and that’s why we need our own forum.”

Brown pointed out that for “issues that cut across” both airports, the PA recommends the creation of the Roundtable Coordinating Committee.

“We should work together, but independently,” Brown said.

Queens Quiet Skies, an advocacy group that originated in northeast Queens, prefers just one roundtable for both JFK and LaGuardia.

“Individual aviation roundtables, one for each airport, are not capable of dealing with the very complex, interrelated jet noise problem in our area,” said Bob Whitehair, vice president of Queens Quiet Skies. “What happens at JFK and LaGuardia airports are interrelated and will be even more interrelated with the implementation of NextGen,” he said, referring to the FAA’s satellite-based airplane navigation system.

Janet McEneaney, president of the organization, said that since the majority of issues involve both airports, “it is only logical that we all resolve them together.”

Warren Schreiber, of Community Board 7, which covers Flushing and other adjacent areas, said that both sides “made a good case.” But as far as CB 7 is considered, the board “has not taken an official position,” he said.

In a powerpoint presentation at the meeting at York College, the PA proposed a committee for LaGuardia, another one for JFK and the coordinating committee for both. The FAA would have an advisory role.

There was also some common ground. The advocacy groups, neighbors and elected officials at the meeting don’t know who would have the right to vote at the decision time to create one or two roundtables.

“How are members going to be selected?” asked Schreiber. “Who is going to vote? People who showed up at the meetings and are not appointed by civic groups, elected officials and community boards?”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.