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Backers seek co-pilots for air noise bill

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:56 am

State Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) said Monday that New York legislators are seeking the support of both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New Jersey Legislature following the state Assembly’s approval of legislation requiring the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct an aircraft noise impact study. 

“It’s important for New Jersey to pass this because the Port Authority is a bi-state agency,” Ra said at a meeting of the Town and Village Air Safety and Noise Abatement Committee. “Hopefully our push is successful in New Jersey.”

Ra added that legislators are also “reaching out” to Cuomo, whose support of the measure he said was unclear.

The state Assembly last week followed the state Senate in approving the legislation that would require the Port Authority to conduct a noise and land-use compatibility study according to federal regulations around JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports by June 1, 2014. The bill also directs the Port Authority to conduct biennial public hearings on aircraft noise issues in Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn in New York and in Union and Essex counties in New Jersey.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a bi-state authority, established in 1921 that oversees much of the regional transportation infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports, within the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Assembly bill was co-sponsored by Ra, state Assemblywoman Michele Schimel (D-Great Neck), state Assemblyman Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and state Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Queens), all of whom represent districts in which residents have complained of excessive noise from the airports.

“The rapid growth of air travel in our region has clearly impacted our environment. The changes in flight patterns continue to effect the quality of life of many residents on Long Island in terms of noise pollution and air pollution. This legislation is the first step in addressing this critical issue,” Schimel said in a statement. 

The same measure was passed by the state Senate three weeks ago, with state senators Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Jack Martins (R-Mineola) co-sponsoring the bill.

“Jet aircraft noise affects more than just the communities immediately surrounding our airports.  It is also a nuisance to those directly under the flight paths, which are sometimes changed without warning or public input,” Martins said in a statement. “This bill protects our families impacted by airplane noise by requiring the Port Authority to conduct studies and hold public hearings and then take steps to fix the problem.”

Members of the aircraft noise committee expressed universally positive reactions to the bill and gave Ra a standing ovation when he was introduced at Monday’s meeting.

“It’s fantastic. It’s going to force the Port Authority to address the noise issue,” said Ray Gaudio, the East Williston representative on the noise abatement committee. “This was big. This was very big. We just need our federal officials to do their part.”

Gaudio was among local officials who held a press conference at New Hyde Park Village Hall on Wednesday morning to build public awareness about the bill.

At the press conference, Ra said the bill “would allow us to address the noise concerns that have become all too prevalent in our neighborhoods.”

Village of New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro said, “New Hyde Park’s a nice place to live. But on a Saturday afternoon when the planes are coming over every one minute, it is a challenging thing. We look for fair distribution.”

He said it seems a though 90 percent of planes landing at Kennedy come in on flight paths to landing strip 22L, which brings them over New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Mineola and the Willistons.

“Now we’ll have an independent party tell us what we already know,” Lofaro said.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), who supported the Martins-Hannon senate bill said, “It shows a bipartisan support to get this thing done. This is an historic moment to get these agencies to stand up and get this done.”    

At the aircraft noise committee meeting, Ra said he had sent copies of the bill passed by the New York Senate and Assembly to New Jersey Senate Deputy Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) six weeks ago. Ra said the bill has been introduced in the New Jersey Senate and he said he expects the bill to be introduced in the New Jersey Assembly shortly.

Ra said he’s “not sure of where [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] stands on this” but he said legislators have been “reaching out to him.”

“We’re hoping to have a meeting with somebody in the governor’s office in the very near future,” Ra said.

He said the bill might have to be amended to be approved by Cuomo. A press conference was to be held by state legislators and local officials on Wednesday to encourage Cuomo’s support of the measure.

Gaudio said he hoped federal legislators would force the Federal Aviation Authority to address the same noise concerns, “rather than just concentrate on operational efficiency.”

“Doing a [noise] study, perhaps you can get the New Hyde Park Road School and the high school insulated,” said Kurt Langjahr, the New Hyde Park representative on the noise abatement committee.

Noise abatement committee chairman Kendall Lampkin said bipartisan support the bill received in both houses of the New York State Legislature “should give the Port Authority pause.”

“For the first time, an issue came up that was neither blue nor red. It was green,” Lampkin said, adding he was “proud that our members of the Senate and Assembly stepped up to the plate.”

Ra thanked Lampkin for his input in helping craft the bill. Ra acknowledged that there are concerns about the cost of the study, which he declined to estimate, but he said federal grants could cover most of the cost. 

In other developments:

• Ed Knoesel, manager, environmental programs, in the Port Authority aviation department, made a presentation at the aircraft noise abatement committee meeting on a new airport noise and operations monitoring system, known as ANOMS, which is in the process of being rolled out to areas around New York area airports. He said the system was destroyed in the September 11 World Trade Tower attacks and needs to be updated and replaced.

He said the new wireless system would comprise 22 permanent noise monitoring terminals and 11 portable terminals. A public Web site is to be launched to track flight paths, monitor decibel readings, runway closure announcements and runway complaints. Permanent noise monitoring terminals will be in place by September or October, Knoesel said, with the public Web site up in November or December and portable noise monitoring terminals in place next spring. The portable terminals would be routinely moved to different locations for noise monitoring

He said the Port Authority is currently in negotiations with Bruel & Kjaer on a contract to be awarded in two weeks. Bruel & Kjaer have designed similar systems for 230 airports, including London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago O’Hare. Knoesel said total cost of the system will be less than $3 million over the next three years.

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