By Gina Martinez
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) revealed new data indicating that the airplane noise levels in Flushing are above the acceptable limit set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
She was joined by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and community leaders, who all called for regulation on airplane noise, at a news conference Monday in Flushing.
FAA regulations say plane noise should not exceed 65 DNL (day/night noise level), but data collected from a Flushing sound monitor showed that the noise exceeds the 65 DNL limit at least one-third of the time, Stavisky said
In May, she had drafted a letter with several colleagues requesting the DNL (day/night noise level) be lowered from 65 to 55 decibels. The World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency both determined that 55 DNL is the acceptable sound level.
“The issue of plane noise is nothing new to the thousands of families being affected by it every day,” Stavisky said. “Ask anyone living in this neighborhood and I’m sure they will tell you how disruptive plane noise can be. With this data, we now see what we’ve always known: parts of Queens are subjected to higher levels of sound than others.”
One of the main concerns for officials is the negative impact the noise can have on residents.
In 2012 flight paths were rerouted to accommodate the US Open tennis tournament in Fresh Meadows. Flights began to fly the TNNIS route, over downtown Flushing rather than Fresh Meadows.
The only problem is they never stopped, according to the elected officials.
Koo is hoping the flight patterns will return to normal.
“It wasn’t always this way. Before 2012 the planes flew over Flushing Meadows Corona Park and were only temporarily allowed to fly over here,” he said. “Then they forgot and it became permanent.”
He said he hoped that an arrangement can be worked out with Congress to make sure that FAA redirects planes away from the park only during the two weeks of the tennis tournament.
“We can tolerate that for only two weeks, but we don’t want to everyday for so many years now,” Koo said. “And it will affect our health and maybe our children’s hearing ability later. You never know what kind of effects this has on human health.”
Community activist Susan Carroll, thinks that Flushing residents’ quality of life should be a priority,
“The redirecting of flights from Flushing Meadows Corona Park to the increasingly populated residential areas of Flushing, on both takeoffs and landings, has become the new normal,” she said. “This is simply unacceptable, and the livability of this community is at stake. There are ways for the airport to achieve efficiency without sacrificing neighborhoods in the process. The economic benefits of the airports should not outweigh the health and well-being of the hardworking residents of Queens.”
Addabbo, whose district covers areas near JFK, said, “We look forward to working with the FAA and Port Authority to do what is right and address the issue of airport noise in these airports as it pertains to our constituents and residents of Queens, improving their quality of life and of course, their health.”
Last week New York’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced new legislation that pushes for the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the effects airplane noise has on residents across the country, including neighborhoods like Flushing. The senators believe the EPA is better suited for that job than the FAA, which took over after budget cuts in the 1980s
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart