Members of Queens Quiet Skies and others concerned about the increased sound of planes overhead applauded Gov. Cuomo’s announcement Monday that puts teeth in their campaign to control the noise levels.
Among other things, the governor has called for double the number of noise monitors, the establishment of aviation community roundtables and conducting in-depth studies of noise issues for residents of Queens, the Bronx and Nassau County.
In addition, Cuomo has ordered the Port Authority to coordinate with area communities on noise issues and to step up its review of noise data with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Area elected officials who have been lobbying the governor for more action called Cuomo’s directive “a good first step.”
Particularly elated is Janet McEneaney of Bayside, who heads Queens Quiet Skies, a group she helped organize in 2012 to deal with the increased noise emanating primarily from planes at LaGuardia Airport after a new flight pattern was established that year that also rerouted planes to fly at lower altitudes over Northeast Queens.
“I’m really happy about the governor’s announcement,” McEneaney said. “And I’m cautiously optimistic” about the outcome.
An attorney, and member of Community Board 11, she singled out state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), and Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Steve Israel (D-Nassau, Suffolk, Queens) and Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens) for leading the fight for change.
Braunstein noted that the PA will begin the roundtables with FAA officials and community members in April for both Queens airports. He said they would provide residents with input, information and updates during the separate noise studies. The meetings will be open to the public.
Late last year, the PA agreed to Cuomo’s request that it conduct the noise study to evaluate the impact of noise to the areas around JFK and LaGuardia. Now, the PA will hire an aircraft noise consulting firm to help identify residences, schools, libraries, hospitals and religious institutions that are adversely affected by airplane noise.
McEneaney believes the study, which could take up to 36 months, might lead to changes in flight paths, while Braunstein said it could encourage airlines to use quieter aircraft and the federal government to install soundproofing for specific properties.
Queens now has five noise monitors around LaGuardia and 10 at JFK, considered a low number for a major metropolitan area. “It’s not a lot to double, but it’s a beginning,” McEneaney said.
The PA is also establishing an aviation noise office to review data and take community complaints. It can be reached at 1 (800) 225-1071.
McEneaney called a plan for residents to track planes and flight patterns on the PA’s new WebTrak system “excellent.” People will be able to find out decibel noise level, altitudes and locations of planes by tracking them online. “Every other area has this,” she said.
Avella has been critical of the FAA’s plan to move forward with the permanent implementation of changes in departure routes at LaGuardia and with flight patterns at JFK that have caused what he calls an excessive increase in noise and air pollution throughout Queens.
He wants the old flight pattern reinstituted, but said he is pleased with Cuomo’s action, recognizing “the profound impact” that increased airplane noise has on the quality of life for Queens residents.
Meng said she is “thrilled” with the governor’s actions but “more work still needs to be done such as soundproofing schools and ensuring that the FAA conducts environmental studies for future flight patterns.”
McEneaney agrees about the environmental assessment, saying her group is pushing the FAA for that. Such a study will investigate how one’s health and the environment are affected by plane noise.
McEneaney said Queens Quiet Skies is trying to push New York airports into the 21st century, adding that Cuomo’s initiatives were her organization’s goals as well.