By Carlotta Mohamed
Whitestone residents are getting some relief from the raucous helicopter noise that has been disrupting the neighborhood for more than four years.
The We Love Whitestone Civic Association held a meeting Oct. 17 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church — located at 150-05 12th Ave. — where residents were notified of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi’s secured provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration Act to mitigate helicopter noise for residents of the North Shore and Long Island.
As co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, the congressman helped to ensure the caucus’ priorities were included in the final legislation passed Oct. 5 by President Trump.
Under the new pilot program that began Oct. 15 and will continue through April 2019, helicopters coming from Manhattan will be rerouted over Whitestone, and will fly over water from Long Island.
“The people of Long Island and Queens deserve to live in peace and quiet,” Suozzi said. “I’m proud to lead the work the caucus is doing to promote awareness and demonstrate to all Members of Congress that the concerns of our constituents are significant and demand action. Today we are taking another step closer to mitigating aircraft noise and improving quality of life for those impacted by incessant aircraft noise.”
Suozzi’s representative, Justin Connor, attended the Whitestone meeting on the congressman’s behalf.
“I think personally, for the past 18 months to be dealing with them [FAA] to get something very positive to start is very good,” said Connor. “I look forward to working with them to continue making developments.”
Suozzi’s measures in the FAA Act require public and comment review for the North Shore Helicopter Route, along with a congressionally mandated altitude floor of 2,500 feet.
Other measures included an FAA evaluation of Alternative metrics to the FAA’s current Day-Night Average Sound Level (65 DNL), a study regarding the Day-Night Sound Levels, health and economic impacts of overflight noise, updated airport exposure maps, and community involvement practices in the NextGen Projects.
George Mirtsopoulous, vice president and founding member of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, said the helicopter noise began in 2012 when helicopters were flying over the North Shore Route to and from Manhattan.
“With all of the Hamptons stuff that went on during the summer it became worse,” said Mirtsopoulous. “We started looking at it and getting involved and meeting with the FAA.”
Earlier this year in July, the We Love Whitestone Civic Association met with Suozzi, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, to determine relief for residents in northeast Queens.
“We got a lot accomplished for this four years to get somewhere at this point,” said Mirtosopoulos. “Personally the fight continues because the ultimate goal is to have them fly over the water… and we’ll see where we go with that.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha