The story in the Queens Chronicle last week about the airport roundtables did not take into account the discussion at the JFK Roundtable meeting which took place on Wednesday, Aug. 20 (“PA officials have riled-up roundtable,” multiple editions).
Contrary to the report on Tuesday’s meeting, the attendants on Wednesday were not all in agreement that there should be one roundtable for Queens. The Eastern Queens Alliance is advocating that there be an airport roundtable for each of the three busiest airports in New York and New Jersey. Other similar opinions were voiced. The EQA proposes a Roundtable Coalition composed of a separate roundtable for each of the airports — JFK, LaGuardia and Newark — with a coordinating committee for sharing, as well as addressing roundtable decisions that may be at odds and issues that cut across roundtables.
While there are those who are calling for a single roundtable for Queens, we oppose this. We do not think that it is in the best interest of Southeast Queens and other communities surrounding JFK Airport with all of the attendant problems, including but definitely not limited to aircraft noise that surround this behemoth facility. Air pollution is high up on our agenda.
While the flight patterns of each airport certainly impact each other, the size and complexity of the airports are very different. JFK is an international airport at least five times larger than LaGuardia and growing. It operates 24/7, contrary to there being no overnight flights out of LaGuardia. Unlike LaGuardia, it has a huge and ever-increasing air cargo business. It is our understanding that Newark, NJ is also demanding a roundtable.
On Aug. 20, the call for a vote of “roundtable members” was questioned by the EQA. Who are the bona fide representatives for each airport? Whom do they represent? Is there true proportionate representation for the affected communities, especially for those who live immediately adjacent to the airports? All this speaks to the overall question: Who should be on an airport roundtable?
The structure of the roundtables needs to be determined and determined soon so they can get on with the gritty business with which airport roundtables are supposed to deal.