Villagers from Floral Park, Garden City, East Williston Demand Answers on Aircraft Complaints
Town of Hempstead and nearby area residents who are constantly disturbed by airplane noise and low-flying aircraft were given the opportunity to express their concerns Monday, July 25, at the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) meeting at Lawrence Village Hall.
Most of the discussion focused around the use of Runway 22L at Kennedy Airport, which is supposed to be a last-resort runway for late-night flights. Local towns and villages affected by these low-flying aircraft include Floral Park, Garden City, Stewart Manor, Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Island Park, Lawrence, Long Beach, New Hyde Park, Valley Stream, East Williston and Woodsburgh.
According to several residents, the late-night noise pollution has increased over the last year and it is affecting their sleep patterns. TVASNAC, along with representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Aviation Development Council, Port Authority New York/New Jersey and JFK Air Traffic Control Tower convened for a chance to address the issues.
At the outset of the meeting, TVASNAC Executive Director Kendall Lampkin said that his organization had not taken any specific position regarding pilot approaches, specific types of landings or takeoffs.
David W. Siewert, air traffic manager of JFK Control Tower, gave a presentation that addressed FAA operational procedures and runway selection. “We reiterated our policies with regards to midnight operations,” said Siewert. “We’re taking a look at our runway approach selections and seeing if they match what our operational criteria are for those selections to make sure our midnight personnel are doing what we pay them to do.”
In the public comment portion of the evening, several residents claimed that the noise pollution has been escalating recently. “Since the last meeting, the air traffic has gotten worse over my home,” said Evelyn Maffucci, a 40-year resident of Garden City. “It’s a disgrace. It’s nice for everybody to be up here and talk, but let’s do something. It’s really a serious matter.”
Another Town of Hempstead resident focused on noise pollution caused by helicopters on the weekend. “The helicopter traffic on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays seems to be flying at extremely low altitudes,” said New Hyde Park Village Trustee Dom Barbieri. “Also, it’s extremely noisy.”
Other locals were pleased with some aspects of the FAA’s initiatives, but wondered what could be done about the overall number of aircrafts that fly into 22L on a daily basis. “I want to thank the FAA and Port Authority for their plan on night-time arrivals,” said Peter Damiano, a three-year resident of Garden City. “I thought they were very concrete in trying to address some of the issues on how they were going to tackle nighttime arrivals. I wish they would have shown the same impetus in dealing with overall volume into 22L and the distribution of VOR/DME that we talked about last time. There were promises made to look into that. Also, promises were made that we would see some concrete input on that and how those issues would be addressed.”
Later in the public comment segment, Floral Park Mayor Tom Tweedy addressed TVASNAC Executive Director Kendall W. Lampkin directly on the issue of JFK runway rotation. “Floral Park would agree with you that every approach should be used,” said Tweedy. “Every runway should be used and have runway rotation as often as possible.”
Ray Gaudio, of East Williston, expressed concerns about the increase in low-flying crafts over the village. He asked, “Why are you allowing these planes to go below the mandated altitude, endangering people’s lives and what are you going to do about it to correct these conditions?”
“Safety is the FAA’s primary interest,” responded Siewert, air traffic manager for the JFK Traffic Control Tower. “We have already responded to the concerns for your town. We have also responded to Senator Schumer’s office.”
In other matters, Garden City Village Trustee and Environmental Advisory Board Chairman Laurence Quinn called for the FAA to conduct an environmental impact study. Quinn stated that he received noise-monitoring data for the Village of Floral Park from the Port Authority. For the month of May, there were 3,852 reported noise events with an average maximum loudness of 66.1 decibels and average duration of 54 seconds each, according to Quinn.
“So I know that 7.7 percent of every day, you’re interrupted by an average 75 decibel airplane noise if you live in Floral Park. Garden City residents are probably subjected to similar or even higher noise levels,” said Quinn.
The next regular meeting of the TVASNAC Committee will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Lawrence Village Hall.