Residents of Southeast Queens are preparing to take to the barricades again over the Port Authority’s proposal to relocate a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Barbara Brown, president of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said residents will appeal the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent approval of a PA environmental study that Brown and residents around the airport feel does not go nearly far enough to protect them from noise and air pollution from low-flying aircraft.
And while the plan does not call for expanding the size of JFK or changing its existing footprint, residents argue that the relocation of runway 4L-22R more than 700 feet closer to Rockaway Boulevard cannot help but mean arriving and departing jumbo jets soon will be even lower over and closer to their homes, schools and parks.
Brown told the Chronicle that the FAA apparently did not take residents’ objections to a draft environmental plan very seriously.
“To that degree, there were no substantial changes in the final version,” Brown said. “We’re not going to do nothing. We want to make sure there is a proper study. We’re going to appeal the FAA decision. The FAA essentially said there will not be a significant impact. And if we say nothing we say we support the project.”
Brown said the methodology of the PA’s environmental assessment was flawed. Residents have been seeking a federal environmental impact study, or EIS for short, which would result in a far more comprehensive analysis.
Brown also says the approved report does not take into account the possible removal of 312 trees from the nearby Idlewild Park Preserve. The PA, however, says those trees are not part of the runway project, and face removal or topping because the FAA considers them tall enough to be a hazard to aviation.
The 60-day window to file an appeal closes after May 13.
Opponents may be up against an irresistible force. The relocation project would allow for the construction of a 1,000-foot long safety overrun zone at one end of the relocated runway.
The runway itself would remain 11,351 feet long, but the safety zone must be in place by 2015 under a Congressional mandate.
Federal law also prohibits the PA from expanding the airport out into Jamaica Bay, home of the Gateway National Wildlife Refuge.
Opening up the March 19 meeting of Community Board 12, Chairwoman Adrienne Adams said she too is ready to fight.
Adams said the PA appears to have just dismissed concerns over air and noise pollution, showing “disregard and negligence” toward the community.
Speaking Monday night at a meeting of Community Board 13, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), the newly appointed chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Committee, said he will be pushing for the installation of air-quality monitors around Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.