By Mark Hallum
Queens Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney told the Community Board 11 meeting Tuesday that talks between her organization, the FAA and Port Authority to reduce airplane noise over the borough have improved since they began in 2012 and progress is underway to bring relief to residents.
McEneaney represented Queens Quiet Skies at the Dec. 15 meeting of the LaGuardia Part 150 Technical Advisory Committee, which includes industry and government representatives as well as elected officials.
She wrote in the Quiet Skies newsletter Dec. 18 the FAA plans to mitigate noise by paying to insulate houses or redirecting flight paths within zones defined by the 65 DNL standard, which defines the level at which airplane noise is incompatible with residential neighborhoods.
The 65 DNL contour over Queens is small and covers mainly Willets Point, she said, but she was optimistic talks are moving in their direction.
“Some of the things we’ve asked for are starting to come to fruition,” McEneaney said. “I was encouraged by the professionalism and the substance of the meeting. I would still like for the TAC (committee) recommendations to be more specific and go a little further. Queens Quiet Skies submitted about 20 suggestions for mitigating noise around LaGuardia Airport, and we would like to see some of those get [adopted].”
The Part 150 Technical Advisory Committee has membership picked by the Port Authority for each community to get input on drawing noise maps in affected areas.
“We’re seeing movement on the part of the FAA where there was never movement before,” McEneaney said, attributing the progress to the nationwide group of people influenced by Queens Quiet Skies who object to airplane noise, which has increased in many parts of the country.
A Freedom of Information request made by Queens Quiet Skies to the Port Authority found in September that flight patterns of commercial jets making the climb above northeast Queens during departure from LaGuardia Airport have increased and account for about 15 percent of the all traffic to and from the international hub.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Vice President of Queens Quiet Skies Brian Will presented the findings about runway usage data for LaGuardia Airport, which Will extrapolated himself.
“Northeast Queens in 2002 had 57,000 departures over it. By 2016, we are on pace for 100,000 departures. That’s nearly a doubling of the departures over this neighborhood,” Will said, referring specifically to Jackson Heights and Woodside, which have seen a seven-fold increase in fly-overs within that period of time. “This is just staggering for me and we’re getting it straight from the Port Authority.”
The data from Port Authority points out that northeast Queens is affected by traffic from runway 13 of LaGuardia Airport. Two main departures routes, the TNNIS Climb and the Whitestone Climb, bring high levels of noise to the borough. Northeast Queens climbs accounted for just under half the departures from LaGuardia in 2014.
“For a long time, the FAA just said either we’re wrong or it’s not happening or just ignore it or live with it,” McEneaney said. “In the very beginning they said ‘we don’t have to talk to you–this is a government agency.’ And we’re now at the point, four plus years later, where they’re not only talking to us, they’re listening to us.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall