Flushing councilman wants LGA flight path diverted from Flushing

City Councilman Peter Koo is calling on City Planning and the Federal Aviation Administration to think about using the old flight paths for LaGuardia Airport.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Madina Toure

Advocates praised and echoed City Councilman Peter Koo’s (D-Flushing) sentiment that the FAA should consider reverting to LaGuardia Airport’s old flight paths.

Before 2012, flight paths were routed over Citi Field, the tennis stadium and Flushing Meadows Corona Park but would be diverted over Flushing during the US Open. But in 2012, the FAA approved the Flushing flight path for general use.

In a response dated Dec. 2, to the Department of City Planning’s draft document of the environmental impact statement for the proposed Flushing West waterfront development plan, Koo said low-flying planes and the resulting noise have caused health concerns for residents in his district. He noted that the proposed development area would be directly under LaGuardia’s current flight paths in the 65 DNL (day night average sound level) area. This is a measurement taken by federal agencies such as the FAA over 24 hours.

Susan Carroll, a Flushing community advocate and a member of Queens Quiet Skies, who is also a representative on the New York Community Aviation Roundtable, said the Port Authority installed a noise monitor on the roof of her building on Franklin Avenue in August 2014.

She can hear planes just about every minute for hours with noise levels anywhere from 70 to 90 decibels.

“When Councilman Koo spoke out about this, I was very happy to see it because in the past, Flushing has taken a back seat to Bayside as far as speaking out about this issue when we’re impacted even more,” Carroll said. “I think it’s about time that Flushing took the lead in saying you have to come up with a better way.”

Koo said the FAA has not conducted a comprehensive review of the flight paths approved in 2012 and he keeps his patio door closed because of the noise.

“The noise problem was not that bad in Flushing, but after that (2012) every day,they fly over downtown Flushing,” he said. “By the Sheraton Hotel area, you can actually see the airplane flying over and sometimes you worry about it hitting the roof of the hotel.”

The FAA said changes to flight patterns would result from a collaborative effort between the Port Authority and the FAA and that the PA—which is conducting airport noise compatibility studies for LGA as well as the John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty International and Teterboro airports—formed the roundtable.

“Noise compatibility studies, also called Part 150 studies, may result in recommendations for mitigating aircraft noise,” the FAA said in a statement.

Warren Schreiber, chairman of Community Board 7’s aviation committee and vice president of Queens Quiet Skies, said Koo’s statement starts a “much-needed” conversation and credited U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Steve Israel (D-Melville) with being vocal on the issue.

But he does not expect the FAA to revert to the old flight paths, noting that they do not notify CB7 of whether they will alter paths as developers need a determination of no hazard from the FAA and the PA.

“They do issue that determination, but they don’t tell us if they’re going to alert the flight tracks,” Schreiber said.

The Flushing West plan would clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and create a planned community with waterfront access and housing and commercial space.

Joe Marvilli, a City Planning press officer, thanked Koo for his input on the issue.

“We are aware of the noise concern regarding LaGuardia Airport, which will be analyzed during the environmental review for Flushing West,” Marvilli said in a statement.

A Port Authority spokesman said the PA supports rotating use of runways where possible to spread out flights.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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