2012/13--OVER SIX MONTHS OF MEETINGS ON JFK AIRPORT AND ITS IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY

From December 2012 through June 2013, the Eastern Queens Alliance has hosted a series of follow-up meetings on the proposed runway extension, as well as the overall impact of JFK Airport on the health of the community. 

Community Meeting with Panel from FAA

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On December 11, an informational meeting was held with the FAA to help residents understand the FAA role in air traffic over the community. The FAA presented information about rules, regulations, and guidelines and challenges it faces in governing air traffic in the metropolitan area with three major airports. Residents voiced their concerns about the increase in flights coming off of the 4/22 runways as well as the many flights that swing across our community from the 13/31's. They questioned whether Southeast Queens was getting more than its fair share of flights. Attendees complained bitterly about the noise and air pollution that plaque our communities. They called on the FAA to reexamine its practices. Essentially, the FAA panel stated that nothing was really going to change; that the situation would not improve. The Eastern Queens Alliance and the communities it represents are adamant that something must be done to give relief to Southeast Queens. 

Legislative Breakfast

This collaboration with the Congressman’s office is the result of a Legislators' Breakfast Meeting hosted by the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) on Saturday, February 23, 2013, which highlighted the airport-related challenges faced by the Southeast Queens community. EQA President, Barbara Brown, advised the  attendees of the Port Authority's current proposal to extend JFK runway 4L/22R and its major negative impacts.

Legislators were in resounding agreement that such an extension would pose significant health and safety threats, and raise critical quality of life and environmental justice concerns in the predominately African-American community. They called on the Port Authority to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study which they felt certain would support these concerns. Senator Tony Avella praised the EQA for providing a model that other Queens and Long Island communities could follow as they address similar airport noise and pollution threats.

In addition to Congressman Meeks and Senator Avella, the breakfast meeting, held at the Apostolic Church in Springfield Gardens, brought out the Who's Who of local elected officials, including State Senators Malcolm Smith and James Sanders as well as Assembly members William Scarborough, Michele Titus and Councilman Leroy Comrie. Representatives from the offices of Borough President Helen Marshall and Comptroller John Liu were also present, as were District Leader Jacqueline Boyce, and NYS Committee Person and local attorney, Joan Flowers.

Community Meeting on Noise Pollution

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The Alliance hosted a  community meeting on Thursday, May 30, 2013, at 7:30 PM at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, located at 224-04 147th Avenue in Springfield Gardens on noise pollution from JFK Airport.

The communities in Southeast Queens are bombarded by jet noise day and night from aircraft taking off and landing at JFK Airport.  The noise is unrelenting. It seems that flights are not just emanating from the north/south runways, the  22/4’s, but from the east/west runways, or 13/31’s as well. Low flying airplanes crisscross the neighborhoods of Brookville, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens roaring overhead every two or three minutes. EQA recognizes that this is not only a quality of life issue, but a health issue and an environmental justice issue as well. These concerns were expressed at the meeting.

Attendees learned about how noise pollution actually impacts their health and well-being. They were also informed about the city’s and other recommendations to help mitigate the problem.  Charles Sturcken and Bruce McDonald from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection discussed the 2010 Airport Noise Study promulgated by their agency.  Dr. Arline Bronzaft presented findings from research on noise and its effects on the health of children and adults.

Joint Meeting with FAA and PANYNJ

Through the office of Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, a meeting was held on June 3, 2013, at FAA headquarters for the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) and other stakeholders to address with  the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority concerns about the extension of JFK Runway 4L22R on the adjacent communities, i.e., impacts on Idlewild Park Preserve, the airport noise and air pollution  that plague the residents of Southeast Queens. While the format of the meeting was not the desired roundtable format that would have facilitated meaningful discussion of the EQA position statements, it was fruitful. The flight patterns in and out of JFK Airport were discussed, the possible improvements on runway safety areas and alternative technologies being used around the country, NEPA guidelines, and PANYNJ's  impact on Idlewild Park Preserve if it goes through with its plan to remove or top over 700 trees. Community leaders in attendance made their voices heard.