By Mark Hallum
U.S. Rep Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck) has backed a city resolution to amend a route allowing helicopters to fly low over northeast Queens, specifically Whitestone, for the health and environmental impact it has on the residents along the shore.
Choppers during peak summer holidays are known to flock to the route skirting the North Shore of Long Island and create noise pollution almost as bad as jetliner traffic coming in and out of LaGuardia Airport.
Suozzi wrote a letter to Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, to support the resolution by City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) to have the route changed, which would force helicopter pilots to cruise over Queens at a higher altitude.
“I represent thousands of constituents in northeast Queens who are constantly bombarded by helicopter noise on a daily basis. Helicopter traffic is only going to intensify as the weather warms and affluent vacationers make their getaways to the East End of Long Island,” Suozzi said. “I became co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus because my constituents in northeast Queens have been forced to endure constant and intrusive noise due to low-flying helicopters at all hours of the night. Noise pollution deteriorates quality of life as well as property values. The FAA has a responsibility to develop long-term strategies to alleviate unreasonable helicopter noise. I am in full support of Council member Vallone’s resolution, and I call upon the FAA to seriously review our proposals.”
Vallone, who chairs the Committee on Economic Development, claimed his constituents are the victims of an industry shipping people between the wealthy getaway centers of Long Island and the city.
“The now infamous North Shore route must be re-examined to stop the assault on our quality of life for the benefit of the helicopter industry and their Hamptons commuters. I am tired of an industry that hides behind the FAA and Port Authority without offering any voluntary changes to a system that they can easily fix without legislation,” Vallone said. “A united approach with our legislators, including Congressman Suozzi, community associations and residents, will be key as we fight to protect our quality of life against the never-ending attack of helicopter flights across our neighborhoods.”
Civic organizations have long been united against airplane noise and helicopter noise by creating roundtables to negotiate a solution with the FAA.
“This is a battle we have been fighting for four years. The overwhelming number of helicopters and sea planes that fly directly over our homes has had a negative impact on our health and quality of life,” said George Mirtsopoulos, vice president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the amount of air traffic makes it impossible to enjoy any outdoor activity in our communities.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall