Then/Now

IT’S MY PARK DAY--PLANTING IN IDLEWILD PARK

On Saturday, October 21, 2006, from 9:00 to 12:00 Noon, the Eastern Queens Alliance held an Idlewild Park Restoration Workshop. A crew made up of children from our Science-in-the-Park program, parents, community residents learned about and planted over 112 upland shrubs and trees in Idlewild. Michael Agnello from NYCDPR also volunteered along with Don Riepe, president of the Littoral Society.  The day was capped off with lunch at the park house in Springfield Park.  All can be proud of the wonderful work that they did.


This project was funded through a 5 Star Grant from National Fish and Wildlife.

TRAIL BLAZING PROJECT

On Sunday, October 22 and Saturday, December 2, 2006, the Eastern Queens Alliance held the first two of several trail blazing activities. Led by the NY/NJ Trail Conference, a group of enthusiastic members of the community, the Adelphi University Environmental Coalition, and residents from an Eihab group home in Brooklyn, began the process of clearing the main trail at the 225th Street entrance and removing phragmytes and other invasive species to open up trails to the salt marsh.  By the end of the day on December 2, not only were two trails cleared leading down to the salt marsh, but a foot bridge was constructed to enable visitors to walk across a stream around the fresh water pond.  For the rest of December, on Saturday and Sunday, you could see members of the Alliance laying weed barrier fabric and spreading crushed fines along the main trail to ready the park for Spring tours.  The GreenApple Corps from NYCDPR has also been helping with this project. This trail building project has been partially funded through a grant from the American Trail Society.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE

The Eastern Queens Alliance sponsored a wonderful conference  from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM, in the auditorium of the Queens Hospital Center located at 82-68 164th Street, Jamaica, NY, The topic of this environment and health conference was: Our Children and Families At Risk: Protecting Our Environment! Protecting Our Health!  The purpose of the conference was to provide the Southeast Queens community with critical information it needs about a range of important environmental topics, including:

                            The Relationship Between Our Health and  Environmental Exposure

                            Environment and Children’s Health—What Parents Should Know!

                            Making Our Homes, Schools, and Communities Healthier Places

                            Environmental Justice And The Need For Enforcement,  

                            Educating Our Community to Be Environmental Stewards

We screened the video Are Your Children At Risk published by Grassroots Environmental Education and then a blue ribbon panel shared their expertise with all who attended. They included: Leonardo  Trasande, MD, MP.P, Center for Children’s Health  and the Environment, Mt Sinai School of Medicine; Suzette Vanderbeek, Queens Vanquard Study, National Children’s Study; Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH—Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network; Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WEACT; Patti Woods, Founder & Executive Director, Grassroots Environmental Education; Nwanakaku  Onwunli, EQA Intern, Florida A & M University

The symposium provided the participants with basic facts, history, implications and possible direction regarding the above mentioned  topics. Those who attended came away with a better understanding of the things in our environment that affect our health. For example, they discussed the links between environmental toxins and not only asthma, but hyperactivity, childhood cancers and neurological and behavioral disorders in children. Through the Q & A they were able to explore strategies that would help people control, if not the eliminate, environmental hazards that are present within communities.

The Alliance firmly believes that an informed community is a community that is better able to protect its quality of life. The goal was to enable residents to be informed advocates for themselves, their children and their communities.

This was a must attend event for the entire community, particularly parents (present and future), educators, policy makers. If you missed it, you missed a chance to acquire information that would help you protect yourself and your family.

$3.6 MILLION COMMITTED TO IMPROVE NEW YORK AND CONNECTICUT WATER QUALITY AND COASTS

IMG 0050

On June 5, 2007, at the BRONX ZOO, NY , representatives from organizations with strong environmental iniitiives eagerly assembled to celebrate the good news.  It was announced that $1.5 million in grant awards was being allocated to fund 12 water quality and coastal restoration projects initiated by nonprofit conservation groups, universities and government agencies in Long Island Sound and Jamaica Bay.  The almost $1.6 million  of Dissolved Oxygen funds was leveraged with $2.1 million raised by the recipients themselves towards the projects, providing a total of $3.6 million towards innovative conservation work such as restoring shoreline habitat for birds and fish; removing 80,000 pounds of garbage from Jamaica Bay marshes; and reducing pollution from water borne sources including common pharmaceuticals now threatening humans and animals that share coastal water.


Barbara E. Brown, Chairperson, and Michael Gordon, Financial Secretary, representatives for the Eastern Queens Alliance, were among the invitees because the Alliance was among the twelve organizations selected. The Alliance is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of $100,000 of these funds for an aquatic restoration/trail/open classroom project in Idlewild Park Preserve. The total project is also made possible with  a $25,000 HEP Conceptual Planning Grant and $300,000 of Environmental Benefit Project funds from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation awarded to the Alliance in 2003. These funds are being held by the Natural Heritage Trust until all design work is completed and construction is ready to begin.

RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY FOR IDLEWILD PARK PRESERVE CANOE/KAYAK LAUNCH

IMG 0077

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Idlewild Park Preserve Canoe and Kayak Launch at the street end located just south of the Huxley Street and Craft Avenue intersection was held on Saturday, September 22, 2007, at 11:00 AM.  This project was the result of a joint collaboration between the Eastern Queens Alliance and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Commissioner of Parks, Adrian Benepe, shown above, officiated and led the canoers and kayakers out into the waters immediately after.  Also shown above are Richard Hellenbrecht, Chairperson of Community Board 13, Barbara Brown, Chairperson of the Alliance, Michele Titus, Assembly Member of the 31st AD, and Laura Hansen, Grants Manager of the JM Kaplan Fund.

The ceremony was very well attended. The Sebago Club and the Long Island City Canoe Club joined the fun and made it possible for some of the local residents to go out on the water. The Urban Park Rangers also took registered attendees go out in canoes.  This is the 5th such outing planned by the Alliance with Parks, but this time there was a real launch for non-motorized craft. Participants got a close-up look at the beauty of the wetlands that exist in Idlewild and a deeper understanding of their importance. This is just the beginning of providing waterfront accessibility to Idlewild Park, and eventually to the adjacent Thurstin Basin. Experienced boaters can even go out to the larger area of Jamaica Bay. The Alliance is in the process of designing a canoe/kayak project which will give community residents the opportunity to enjoy the treasurer that is sitting in their own back yard.

This Idlewild Waterfront Street-end Park Project for a Canoe/Kayak/Rowboat Launch on Idlewild Park Salt Marsh was made possible in part through a $15,000 grant to the Alliance from the JM Kaplan Fund for the design of the launch that would provide, for the first time, waterfront access to Southeast Queens.  The Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski was excited by the idea and agreed that Parks would do the design if the Alliance could use the grant to pay for materials.  The grantors agreed.

IMG 0080

 This project is one of many planned by EQA. The Eastern Queens Alliance is dedicated to protecting the parklands and open spaces in its communities. Idlewild Park contains the largest expanse of high quality salt marsh along the shores of Jamaica Bay. Tidal creeks running through the park are the most extensive in, and provide the largest volume of freshwater to, the Bay. It is EQA’s desire to preserve, restore and develop all of this and to make it accessible to the community.

This launch is a major step in the implementation of the Alliance’s strategic plan.


PUBLIC MEETING IN SOUTHEAST QUEENS ON PROPOSED RUNWAY EXTENSION

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A Public Meeting/Hearing was held on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at 7:30 PM at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church located on 224th Street and 147th Avenue in the Brookville section of Springfield Gardens/Rosedale regarding the extension of Runway 4L/22R at JFK Airport. Representatives from the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey were there to give the community information about overall plans and to extend Runway 4L/22R. The meeting was attended by over 225 community residents with standing room only despite the fact that it was a very rainy night.

The Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. (EQA), called for this public meeting and the official reopening of the comment period on a draft document prepared by Landrum & Brown entitled Environmental Assessment (EA), Runway 4L/22R Improvements, John F. Kennedy International Airport prepared for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and the Port Authority of NY/NJ dated May 2012 because the Southeast Queens communities, those closest to the airport and the most impacted by any runway extension, were not duly notified about the proposal nor the comment period on the draft environmental assessment. The Alliance, through the office of Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, called for: a) The reopening of the comment period with the stipulation that our communities be properly notified and given sufficient time to study the issue and comment on the EA, and b) That any further action on the extension of Runway 4L/22R be suspended until such time as our communities were given adequate time to comment on the proposed runway extension. The Alliance also wrote to US Senators Gillibrand and Schumer as well as to the Port Authority of NY/NJ and the FAA with the same complaint and request.  The Port Authority of NY/NJ has admitted that they “could have done a better job” in outreach and agreed to reopen the comment period. Comments on the proposal were due by November 4, 2013.  

The Alliance, its member civics and many individuals in the community did send in comments to the PANYNJ regarding the proposal. Basically it found that the findings of no significant impact were flawed. The Alliance is pushing for the completion of an  Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which requires a much more detailed analysis of the project's  impacts.A final draft of the Envrionmental Assessment has to be prepared by the PANYNJ, responding to all comments submitted. The FAA has the final say on whether the EA is approved or not.   To see the Alliance comments click here. To see the Addendum to the comments sent to PANYNJ click here.

 

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

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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

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

jfka380 g 091120 620 1

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.

PRESS CONFERENCE ON PROPOSED TREE REMOVAL IN IDLEWILD PARK PRESERVE

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On Friday, April 26th, the Eastern Queens Alliance held a press at the Idlewild Cricket Field at 223rd Street & 149th Avenue in Springfield Gardens, N. to let the community’s voice be heard about the removal of hundreds of full-grown trees in Idlewild Park Preserve. Specifically, PANYNJ has been negotiating with the NYCDPR to the remove 722 trees from the wetlands area.  Half of the trees they claim are current hazards to aviation. But one has to question: Why now? 

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 The Eastern Queens Alliance believes that the removal of the trees is more likely tied to PANYNJ’s proposed extension of JFK runway 4L/22R. The runway extension has not yet been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); but if it is approved, the runway 4L/22R will extend 728 feet closer to the community and lower aircraft by 100+ feet over nearby homes. At that point, even more trees will be cleared away from the wetlands area, rendering the park useless.   

We need our wetlands!  The wetlands in Idlewild Park provide critical flood protection by serving as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface-water, rain, snowmelt groundwater and floodwaters.  The trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation slow the speed of floodwaters and reduce erosion. In fact, the destruction of wetlands over the years has probably contributed significantly to the debilitating flooding experienced in low-lying communities in the Springfield Gardens and Rosedale areas.

In addition to the ecological importance of the wetlands, they serve as an educational and recreational resource for our community.  Over the years, the EQA and the community have planted trees, shrubs and wetland plants.  We have built trails and taken children on field trips through EQA-sponsored hands-on environmental science education programs. And the wetlands will serve as a critical focal point and learning “laboratory” for the Idelwild Park Preserve Environmental Learning Center which Borough President Helen Marshall has made possible through the allocation of $5million in the 2009 budget. 

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We cannot sit by now and allow external agencies to impose their narrow self-interests on the health, safety and quality of life of our community.  This is the community where our children play and go to school.  We have worked hard to obtain and maintain our homes; and for many of us, they represent our most valuable investments.  We have a vested interest in maintaining this community, and we have a right to do so. 

SUSTAINABILITY FORUM ON AIRPORTS AND THE HEALTH OF SOUTHEAST QUEENS

On Thursday, June 19, 2014, from 7:30 to 9:30pm at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. held a meeting to discuss the meaning of “sustainability” in Southeast Queens.  We addressed the possible impacts of JFK Airport on sustainability, specifically the possible detrimental impacts on our health and our environment. We discussed the latest research on air and noise pollution on our health, and evaluated whether these effects were prevalent in our community. Updates were given regarding the airport community roundtable, as well as current litigation. It was stressed that community involvement is needed to further awareness of issues. New volunteers were registered to join the Environment and Health Working Group, as well as the Idlewild Park Preservation Committee. If you are interested in joining one of our volunteer groups, for more information please email:  info@easternqueensalliance.org or tamaramitchell@easternqueensalliance.org.

Click on the links for the presentations on air and noise pollution and our health. 

Also see table on: Noise and Air Pollution Associations in SE Queens

Disclaimer:  None of the in the  findings presented are conclusive and the Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. does not warrant that the information, documents and materials contained in its presentations/publications to be complete and correct and shall not be liable whatsoever for any damages incurred as a result of its use.


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IT’S MY PARK DAY--PLANTING IN IDLEWILD PARK

On Saturday, October 21, 2006, from 9:00 to 12:00 Noon, the Eastern Queens Alliance held an Idlewild Park Restoration Workshop. A crew made up of children from our Science-in-the-Park program, parents, community residents learned about and planted over 112 upland shrubs and trees in Idlewild. Michael Agnello from NYCDPR also volunteered along with Don Riepe, president of the Littoral Society.  The day was capped off with lunch at the park house in Springfield Park.  All can be proud of the wonderful work that they did.

shapeimage 2-8


This project was funded through a 5 Star Grant from National Fish and Wildlife.

TRAIL BLAZING PROJECT

On Sunday, October 22 and Saturday, December 2, 2006, the Eastern Queens Alliance held the first two of several trail blazing activities. Led by the NY/NJ Trail Conference, a group of enthusiastic members of the community, the Adelphi University Environmental Coalition, and residents from an Eihab group home in Brooklyn, began the process of clearing the main trail at the 225th Street entrance and removing phragmytes and other invasive species to open up trails to the salt marsh.  By the end of the day on December 2, not only were two trails cleared leading down to the salt marsh, but a foot bridge was constructed to enable visitors to walk across a stream around the fresh water pond.  For the rest of December, on Saturday and Sunday, you could see members of the Alliance laying weed barrier fabric and spreading crushed fines along the main trail to ready the park for Spring tours.  The GreenApple Corps from NYCDPR has also been helping with this project. This trail building project has been partially funded through a grant from the American Trail Society.

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE

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The Eastern Queens Alliance sponsored a wonderful conference  from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM, in the auditorium of the Queens Hospital Center located at 82-68 164th Street, Jamaica, NY, The topic of this environment and health conference was: Our Children and Families At Risk: Protecting Our Environment! Protecting Our Health!  The purpose of the conference was to provide the Southeast Queens community with critical information it needs about a range of important environmental topics, including:

                            The Relationship Between Our Health and  Environmental Exposure

                            Environment and Children’s Health—What Parents Should Know!

                            Making Our Homes, Schools, and Communities Healthier Places

                            Environmental Justice And The Need For Enforcement,  

                            Educating Our Community to Be Environmental Stewards

We screened the video Are Your Children At Risk published by Grassroots Environmental Education and then a blue ribbon panel shared their expertise with all who attended. They included: Leonardo  Trasande, MD, MP.P, Center for Children’s Health  and the Environment, Mt Sinai School of Medicine; Suzette Vanderbeek, Queens Vanquard Study, National Children’s Study; Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH—Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network; Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WEACT; Patti Woods, Founder & Executive Director, Grassroots Environmental Education; Nwanakaku  Onwunli, EQA Intern, Florida A & M University

The symposium provided the participants with basic facts, history, implications and possible direction regarding the above mentioned  topics. Those who attended came away with a better understanding of the things in our environment that affect our health. For example, they discussed the links between environmental toxins and not only asthma, but hyperactivity, childhood cancers and neurological and behavioral disorders in children. Through the Q & A they were able to explore strategies that would help people control, if not the eliminate, environmental hazards that are present within communities.

The Alliance firmly believes that an informed community is a community that is better able to protect its quality of life. The goal was to enable residents to be informed advocates for themselves, their children and their communities.

This was a must attend event for the entire community, particularly parents (present and future), educators, policy makers. If you missed it, you missed a chance to acquire information that would help you protect yourself and your family.

$3.6 MILLION COMMITTED TO IMPROVE NEW YORK AND CONNECTICUT WATER QUALITY AND COASTS

IMG 0050

On June 5, 2007, at the BRONX ZOO, NY , representatives from organizations with strong environmental iniitiives eagerly assembled to celebrate the good news.  It was announced that $1.5 million in grant awards was being allocated to fund 12 water quality and coastal restoration projects initiated by nonprofit conservation groups, universities and government agencies in Long Island Sound and Jamaica Bay.  The almost $1.6 million  of Dissolved Oxygen funds was leveraged with $2.1 million raised by the recipients themselves towards the projects, providing a total of $3.6 million towards innovative conservation work such as restoring shoreline habitat for birds and fish; removing 80,000 pounds of garbage from Jamaica Bay marshes; and reducing pollution from water borne sources including common pharmaceuticals now threatening humans and animals that share coastal water.


Barbara E. Brown, Chairperson, and Michael Gordon, Financial Secretary, representatives for the Eastern Queens Alliance, were among the invitees because the Alliance was among the twelve organizations selected. The Alliance is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of $100,000 of these funds for an aquatic restoration/trail/open classroom project in Idlewild Park Preserve. The total project is also made possible with  a $25,000 HEP Conceptual Planning Grant and $300,000 of Environmental Benefit Project funds from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation awarded to the Alliance in 2003. These funds are being held by the Natural Heritage Trust until all design work is completed and construction is ready to begin.

RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY FOR IDLEWILD PARK PRESERVE CANOE/KAYAK LAUNCH

IMG 0077

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Idlewild Park Preserve Canoe and Kayak Launch at the street end located just south of the Huxley Street and Craft Avenue intersection was held on Saturday, September 22, 2007, at 11:00 AM.  This project was the result of a joint collaboration between the Eastern Queens Alliance and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Commissioner of Parks, Adrian Benepe, shown above, officiated and led the canoers and kayakers out into the waters immediately after.  Also shown above are Richard Hellenbrecht, Chairperson of Community Board 13, Barbara Brown, Chairperson of the Alliance, Michele Titus, Assembly Member of the 31st AD, and Laura Hansen, Grants Manager of the JM Kaplan Fund.

The ceremony was very well attended. The Sebago Club and the Long Island City Canoe Club joined the fun and made it possible for some of the local residents to go out on the water. The Urban Park Rangers also took registered attendees go out in canoes.  This is the 5th such outing planned by the Alliance with Parks, but this time there was a real launch for non-motorized craft. Participants got a close-up look at the beauty of the wetlands that exist in Idlewild and a deeper understanding of their importance. This is just the beginning of providing waterfront accessibility to Idlewild Park, and eventually to the adjacent Thurstin Basin. Experienced boaters can even go out to the larger area of Jamaica Bay. The Alliance is in the process of designing a canoe/kayak project which will give community residents the opportunity to enjoy the treasurer that is sitting in their own back yard.

This Idlewild Waterfront Street-end Park Project for a Canoe/Kayak/Rowboat Launch on Idlewild Park Salt Marsh was made possible in part through a $15,000 grant to the Alliance from the JM Kaplan Fund for the design of the launch that would provide, for the first time, waterfront access to Southeast Queens.  The Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski was excited by the idea and agreed that Parks would do the design if the Alliance could use the grant to pay for materials.  The grantors agreed.

IMG 0080

 This project is one of many planned by EQA. The Eastern Queens Alliance is dedicated to protecting the parklands and open spaces in its communities. Idlewild Park contains the largest expanse of high quality salt marsh along the shores of Jamaica Bay. Tidal creeks running through the park are the most extensive in, and provide the largest volume of freshwater to, the Bay. It is EQA’s desire to preserve, restore and develop all of this and to make it accessible to the community.

This launch is a major step in the implementation of the Alliance’s strategic plan.


PUBLIC MEETING IN SOUTHEAST QUEENS ON PROPOSED RUNWAY EXTENSION

A Public Meeting/Hearing was held on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at 7:30 PM at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church located on 224th Street and 147th Avenue in the Brookville section of Springfield Gardens/Rosedale regarding the extension of Runway 4L/22R at JFK Airport. Representatives from the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey were there to give the community information about overall plans and to extend Runway 4L/22R. The meeting was attended by over 225 community residents with standing room only despite the fact that it was a very rainy night.

IMG_0137

The Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. (EQA), called for this public meeting and the official reopening of the comment period on a draft document prepared by Landrum & Brown entitled Environmental Assessment (EA), Runway 4L/22R Improvements, John F. Kennedy International Airport prepared for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and the Port Authority of NY/NJ dated May 2012 because the Southeast Queens communities, those closest to the airport and the most impacted by any runway extension, were not duly notified about the proposal nor the comment period on the draft environmental assessment. The Alliance, through the office of Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, called for: a) The reopening of the comment period with the stipulation that our communities be properly notified and given sufficient time to study the issue and comment on the EA, and b) That any further action on the extension of Runway 4L/22R be suspended until such time as our communities were given adequate time to comment on the proposed runway extension. The Alliance also wrote to US Senators Gillibrand and Schumer as well as to the Port Authority of NY/NJ and the FAA with the same complaint and request.  The Port Authority of NY/NJ has admitted that they “could have done a better job” in outreach and agreed to reopen the comment period. Comments on the proposal were due by November 4, 2013.  

The Alliance, its member civics and many individuals in the community did send in comments to the PANYNJ regarding the proposal. Basically it found that the findings of no significant impact were flawed. The Alliance is pushing for the completion of an  Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which requires a much more detailed analysis of the project's  impacts.A final draft of the Envrionmental Assessment has to be prepared by the PANYNJ, responding to all comments submitted. The FAA has the final say on whether the EA is approved or not.   To see the Alliance comments click here. To see the Addendum to the comments sent to PANYNJ click here.

 

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

images-1

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.

PRESS CONFERENCE ON PROPOSED TREE REMOVAL IN IDLEWILD PARK PRESERVE

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On Friday, April 26th, the Eastern Queens Alliance held a press at the Idlewild Cricket Field at 223rd Street & 149th Avenue in Springfield Gardens, N. to let the community’s voice be heard about the removal of hundreds of full-grown trees in Idlewild Park Preserve. Specifically, PANYNJ has been negotiating with the NYCDPR to the remove 722 trees from the wetlands area.  Half of the trees they claim are current hazards to aviation. But one has to question: Why now? 

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 The Eastern Queens Alliance believes that the removal of the trees is more likely tied to PANYNJ’s proposed extension of JFK runway 4L/22R. The runway extension has not yet been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); but if it is approved, the runway 4L/22R will extend 728 feet closer to the community and lower aircraft by 100+ feet over nearby homes. At that point, even more trees will be cleared away from the wetlands area, rendering the park useless.   

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We need our wetlands!  The wetlands in Idlewild Park provide critical flood protection by serving as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface-water, rain, snowmelt groundwater and floodwaters.  The trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation slow the speed of floodwaters and reduce erosion. In fact, the destruction of wetlands over the years has probably contributed significantly to the debilitating flooding experienced in low-lying communities in the Springfield Gardens and Rosedale areas.

In addition to the ecological importance of the wetlands, they serve as an educational and recreational resource for our community.  Over the years, the EQA and the community have planted trees, shrubs and wetland plants.  We have built trails and taken children on field trips through EQA-sponsored hands-on environmental science education programs. And the wetlands will serve as a critical focal point and learning “laboratory” for the Idelwild Park Preserve Environmental Learning Center which Borough President Helen Marshall has made possible through the allocation of $5million in the 2009 budget. 

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We cannot sit by now and allow external agencies to impose their narrow self-interests on the health, safety and quality of life of our community.  This is the community where our children play and go to school.  We have worked hard to obtain and maintain our homes; and for many of us, they represent our most valuable investments.  We have a vested interest in maintaining this community, and we have a right to do so. 

SUSTAINABILITY FORUM ON AIRPORTS AND THE HEALTH OF SOUTHEAST QUEENS

On Thursday, June 19, 2014, from 7:30 to 9:30pm at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. held a meeting to discuss the meaning of “sustainability” in Southeast Queens.  We addressed the possible impacts of JFK Airport on sustainability, specifically the possible detrimental impacts on our health and our environment. We discussed the latest research on air and noise pollution on our health, and evaluated whether these effects were prevalent in our community. Updates were given regarding the airport community roundtable, as well as current litigation. It was stressed that community involvement is needed to further awareness of issues. New volunteers were registered to join the Environment and Health Working Group, as well as the Idlewild Park Preservation Committee. If you are interested in joining one of our volunteer groups, for more information please email:  info@easternqueensalliance.org or tamaramitchell@easternqueensalliance.org.

Click on the links for the presentations on air and noise pollution and our health. 

Also see table on: Noise and Air Pollution Associations in SE Queens

Disclaimer:  None of the in the  findings presented are conclusive and the Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc. does not warrant that the information, documents and materials contained in its presentations/publications to be complete and correct and shall not be liable whatsoever for any damages incurred as a result of its use.