Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

Bayside activists and their elected officials have not let up on their efforts to give everyday residents a seat at the Federal Aviation Administration’s negotiation table.

Queens Quiet Skies founder and Community Board 11 member Janet McEneaney submitted a formal proposal for an aviation roundtable with the FAA after more than a year of drastically increasing airplane noise, but was left in waiting after the agency rebutted with some objections to certain aspects of the draft. Meanwhile, lawmakers also called on the Port Authority to establish its own airport advisory committee with community leaders to address complaints of noise and air pollution.

It took days for McEneaney to write and submit a formal, binding set of rules to the FAA with hopes of establishing an aviation roundtable involving area residents in both the FAA and Port Authority’s decision-making, she said. FAA Administrator Carmine Gallo returned the proposal to her earlier this week with some of the agency’s objections, prolonging the process.

“We looked at their objections and said they were things we could talk about,” McEneaney said. “It is a very difficult balancing act because this roundtable is going to have more airports than you will usually see in any given airspace.”

The Bayside native said she based much of her proposal on other aviation roundtables established in other major airspaces, such as San Francisco, but none included as many major airports as the New York metropolitan area.

“What we are proposing is to let it be an umbrella organization with a committee for each airport, so the members involved with each airport live in the area,” she said. “The whole essence of this roundtable is consensus-building and having input from all the stakeholders.”

Elected officials on the federal level also moved the conversation forward when they sent a letter to Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye this week urging the creation of an airport advisory committee. The goal, they said, was to give residents an outlet to express how they are affected by flight patterns, construction, times and frequency of arrivals and departures, new runway configurations and other matters.

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing, a body that would help increase quality of life for locals,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “With the creation of this committee, those affected by airplane noise can provide a more united front to their elected officials, the aviation community and the FAA.”

Joining Schumer in that letter were U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville),

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and eight other House representatives. Meng and Israel have also been working closely with New York state officials, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), who live and work in the heart of the epicenter of Queens Quiet Skies in Bayside.

“It’s time for residents of the New York area to have a single, united voice when it comes to fighting against airport-related issues that impact our region,” Meng said. “An airport advisory committee would ensure that all the concerns of community leaders, civic groups and residents are heard and that real, viable solutions are reached.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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