The JFK Airport Committee (JFKAC) held the initial meeting of the JFK Community Benefits Coalition for the JFK Redevelopment Program, at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, This was chaired by Barbara Brown, Chairperson of the New York Community Aviation Roundtable (NYCAR) initiator of the meeting which was facilitated by Tom Curry.
The JFKAC formally announced its initiative, JFKAC Community Benefits Coalition for the JFK Airport Redevelopment Project by stating the over arching goals of this coalition which are to identify the harms and/or risks of increasing the capacity of JFK International Airport, plus to identify and negotiate types of mitigations, give-backs, and benefits to off-set the increased burdens that will be experienced by those impacted by JFK air traffic and on-the-ground operations. according to Brown.
Brown took the time to explain the role of NYCAR, the original Governor’s Vision plan, $10 billion funding, benefits of the redevelopment and community benefits that should be part of the program to those new to the processes in the audience.
Brown announced the need for a coalition of all stakeholders in the surrounding areas for “the end-goal of the coalition is the promulgation of and advocacy for the implementation of a multi-faceted community benefits package designed to a) mitigate the harms and risks faced by those who live under the flight paths of airplanes arriving and departing from JFK Airport, as well as those who reside in close proximity to the airport and are, therefore, exposed to the harms and risks associated with living near an international airport”.
Patrick Evans, Secretary of NYCAR, explained the general disposition of the $10 billion plan and reminded every one that “Nothing is final” in the plan and that it is generally agreed that $9 of the $10 billion will come from private investors, so a united coalition was necessary to strike the best bargain in the community benefits program. It was also mentioned that the 30 percent set aside for minority participation is a baseline and that more is needed.
Dolores Hofman of the Queens Air Service Development Office (QASDO) introduced the program which involves bringing together the suppliers of the Queens community together with the buyers of the airport in keeping things local. She said it is an opportunity to “get a piece of the sky” when getting new business. She encouraged people in the audience to sign up with her organization so that their business can be referred to airport buyers for specific commodities. According to Hofman, QASDO is valuable in that they have successfully connected 462 contracts in 2016.
Dennis Graham and Dawn Semple, experts in noise and air pollution, were on hand to present their work in determining the harmful effects of air and noise pollution on humans who live near the airports..
There were a couple of attendees who are part of the Queens Connection Team (QCT) who questioned the umbrella coalition being headed by the NYCAR committee. The QCT speakers felt that they have more experience in this community benefits package models and questioned the JFKAC as to who is better qualified to act as the representative of community needs to Port Authority and investors for the coming JFK redevelopment.
Some of the concerned individuals who want the best for the community belong to both NYCAR and QCT. So, this meeting was a first step in identifying the players in the community benefits package proposal and a chance for all to discuss the merits of both outstanding groups in putting forth a coalition solution.
Said Brown, “We are inviting all interested CBO’s in the JFK Airshed to join and work on the coalition. Whether you are new to the idea of a CBA or you are one of the several entities who have been working for months to create one, we invite you to join the JFKAC Community Benefits Coalition and collaborate with a broad-based, inclusive alliance of community organizations to put together a CBA that will benefit the greatest number of JFK Airport airshed stakeholders in truly significant ways. Interested individuals, not connected to a CBO are also welcome. The pooled wisdom of the many will surely be better than that which comes from an assortment of individual groups. There is strength in unity. Let’s benefit from it”.
Brown e-mailed the attendees afterward saying, “Thank you for attending the inaugural meeting of the JFKAC Community Benefits Coalition on Thursday, August 16th. We think most who attended would agree that it was a meeting filled with excellent, informative presentations about the funding of the JFK Redevelopment Project, the LAX CBA as a model for us, the certification process for prospective vendors, as well as the deleterious health impacts of aviation-related air and noise pollution”.