CB7 weighs in on airplane noise in northern Queens

By Madina Toure

Members of Community Board 7 had strong opinions on how the Port Authority is tackling the airplane noise issue, expressing concerns about everything from placement of noise monitors to insufficient community representation at the board’s monthly meeting Monday night in Flushing.

Representatives from the PA and Environmental Science Associates briefed board members about the Part 150 studies, whose goal is to re-evaluate aviation noise levels around LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, New York’s two major airports. Environmental Science is the prime consultant for the studies.

At the meeting at Union Care Plaza Center, Chuck Apelian, CB 7’s vice chairman, who ran the meeting on behalf of CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty, conceded that a more in-depth discussion is needed on the subject.

“This really deserves more time than what’s happening right now and it deserves to have an interaction through a committee, not through a board meeting,” Apelian said. “Technical data, the involvement, the engagement, the whys and the where, how have to go through a committee.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the PA to undertake Part 150 studies for JFK and LaGuardia in response to growing community concerns about aircraft noise. In 2014, the PA signed an agreement with Environmental Science Associates.

The studies consist of creating noise exposure maps and a noise compatibility program. The map is designed to identify an airport’s present and future noise patterns as well as land uses incompatible with those noise patterns.

The noise compatibility program shows what measures the airport has taken or proposes to take to reduce or prevent the introduction of incompatible land uses within the area covered by the airport’s map.

Aircraft noise is calculated using Day-Night Average Sound Level, or DNL, a 24-hour average noise level. The Federal Aviation Administration said a DNL of 65 decibels or greater is incompatible with residential communities.

James Cervino, chairman of CB 7’s environmental committee, questioned a lack of noise monitors close to College Point and Flushing, but board member Joe Femenia, president of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association, said there is a noise monitor on 120th Street and 23rd Avenue in College Point.

Peter Byrne, deputy project director for the ESA study team, said the data from noise monitors would be compared to what they get out of the integrated noise model, which is what they are running for the Part 150 study.

“We use what’s happening, what we’re picking up on those monitors, and compare what we get out of the integrated noise model to make sure that we’re getting something that approximately is what we’re seeing up on the ground,” Byrne said.

There were also concerns about the makeup of the technical advisory committee for LaGuardia. Alison Tan, another board member, noted that there is a lack of community representation.

“I’m just curious, I don’t see any groups there that specifically represent Flushing or College Point,” Tan told the representatives.

Kelly Mitchell, a project major for PA, said that the committee is very technical and that people and organizations on the committee are usually part of several organizations.

“We tried to have the broad representation for the communities that are affected by the airport noise,” Mitchell said.

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

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