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Can we solve the airplane-noise problem?

By Bob Harris

For decades residents of Queens have complained about the noise of airplane takeoffs from JFK and La Guardia airports. I remember attending meetings called by the late Congressman Ben Rosenthal at a hotel near La Guardia Airport. The only thing we remember about those meetings were people from Nassau County saying that they should not have airplane noise over their homes because they paid a lot of money for their homes.

Today, the airplane noise is still there when planes take off from our two local airports in a fan-like pattern over our houses every minute or so for about an hour. The current solution to controlling the airplane noise is to create a roundtable consisting of community members, local legislative members, industry members, the Federal Aviation Authority, Port Authority representatives, and people from Nassau who will find solutions to the problem. Airports around the country have had such organizations for years.

There are problems. Groups from LaGuardia and JFK each wanted their own roundtable. It was realized that areas across the United States only have one roundtable, so it was decided to have only one in Queens, but people representing each airport keep pressing for their own roundtable to solve their own needs. This has led to squabbling, which takes up valuable time needed to write by-laws and get the Queens roundtable functioning. It is understandable but frustrating.

Reading the newspaper reports and listening to reports given at the Queens Civic Congress, I heard about loud sounds and their health implications on people living near the airports, but I don’t remember hearing or reading about the health hazards of airplane fuel released by the airplanes. Years ago I read about residents near the airports complaining about a layer of aviation gasoline on cars, houses and the land nearby airports. Is this still a problem? If so, it should be solved.

One way to gather statistics about airplane noise is to place noise monitors around the airports. These noise monitors leave a permanent record of airplane noise. Since the southern area of Flushing around Fresh Meadows, is where the LaGuardia planes streak into the sky at the Whitestone Climb, the FAA has just placed one in my backyard.

I hope it stays longer than the one placed there about 15 years ago. It was recording all those take-offs, then one day someone called my house to ask about noise and my wife Edna made the smart remark, “Do you think there is a noise problem if I can read the serial numbers on the plane”? They took it away a few days later.

Congresswoman Grace Meng is busy introducing legislation to help solve the problem. We need the roundtable fully implemented so it can give her official input and she can introduce bills in Congress which will work to solve the problem. Actually, the activist members on the roundtable have been fighting for years and they do visit their legislators, the Queens Civic Congress and member civics.

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