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My family was in from out of the town over the July 4th weekend. While relaxing in my backyard my nine-year-old nephew innocently asked, “Uncle Adam, why do the airplanes look so close?” I had to ask him to repeat the question because I couldn’t hear him over the roar of the low-flying plane.
A little over a year ago I met with Len Schaier, community activist and creator of the website QuietSkies.net. Len brought me up to speed on why there has been an increase in airplane noise and discussed his efforts to rally the community to fight it. I also attended community forums on airplane noise to learn as much as I could.
I found out that ever since the closure of JFK airport runway 4L-22R, airplane traffic has been rerouted with increasing frequency right over the Town of North Hempstead. The flight path goes over East Hills, Roslyn Heights, New Hyde Park, Floral Park and Franklin Square, on the way to landing at JFK.
The major concern is noise. The FAA claims that 65 decibels are acceptable (a sound slightly lower than a passenger car going 65 mph). Schaier says, “65 decibels are actually dangerous to your health, for cardiovascular disease. 55 is the number that Harvard showed…there is no heart risk.” Schaier noted that an East Hills monitor registered plane noise at 70 decibels.
The FAA is implementing a new GPS based tracking system called NextGen, which will allow planes to fly safely in closer proximity. This just means more noise at closer intervals for Nassau County residents. Not good.
In May 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was installing five portable aircraft noise monitors at a total cost of just under $150,000. Regardless of the FAA noise findings, what recourse do local communities have? So far the FAA hasn’t responded to calls from our elected officials to mitigate the noise.
The FAA planned to study the airplane noise for a year and then reassess. It’s a year later. Now what? There will be no quick fix to the noise problem.
My excellent hometown East Hills Mayor, Michael Koblenz, wrote a letter to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, urging legal action against the FAA. At the end of the letter he cites a pending action of the city of Phoenix against the FAA. The lawsuit cites violations of the National Environmental Policy Act “which requires agencies to consider environmental conditions.” Hopefully, Phoenix will win the suit and set a precedent to aid our local fight.
Most Long Island elected officials from mayors to NYS Federal Senators have been outspoken about mitigating the airplane noise problem from low flying planes. You can be an advocate too by writing a letter to the FAA addressed to: Administrator Michael Huerta, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20591.
Hopefully, next time my family visits from out of town I will be able to hear my nephew in my backyard. You can safely bet if I am elected to the NYS Senate I will be a strong advocate for the Long Island community on this issue.