The meeting, led by Councilman Daniel Dromm, was attended by about 150 Queens residents and a representative panel including state senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, members of Queens Quiet Skies, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“Plane noise is a fact of life when you live close to an airport, but since October my district has been inundated with the roar of airplanes,” said Dromm. “It has become a major quality of life issue for hundreds of residents living in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. I would like to work with the regional and federal offices to create an action plan to address this problem.”
While there have always been issues with airplane noise in this section of Queens, weekend construction at LaGuardia airport and new technology from the FAA called NextGen that allows better tracking of airplanes, allowing them to fly lower to the ground as well as take off and land with greater frequency, has made the problem worse.
“This is a decades-old problem that has worsened recently because of new technologies that make low-flight patterns possible,” said Peralta. “By working with federal and regional officials, we will be able to come up with a solution that minimizes the maddening airplane noise and is good for airport business, which we need to continue to thrive.”
Residents' questions centered around lack of and need for noise monitors, why flight pattern changes have been implemented, and how to communicate effectively with the appropriate agencies when noise levels get out of hand.
The Port Authority announced that they will be debuting a new website in January that will allow residents to see what construction is happening on which runways, and subsequently which neighborhoods will be affected by the construction.
“It is important for all elected officials and residents throughout Queens to work together to ensure that the FAA and the Port Authority pay attention to our quality of life concerns,” said Avella. “We are closer now than ever before, with Governor Cuomo’s help, to having a Part 150 environmental impact study done and creating a roundtable, which every other metropolitan city in this country with a major airport has had the benefit of.”
Queens Quiet Skies has also advocated for a roundtable that would involve the airlines working with other organizations to reduce noise levels where possible, pointing out that successful roundtable programs have already been implemented in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
“This is the first step towards changing airplane noise quality of life problems in our neighborhoods and better communicating with agencies that control our skies,” said Dromm.