BY JAMES FARRELL
The New York Community Aviation Roundtable’s LaGuardia Committee elected its executive officers at its June 21 meeting, making a significant step forward in the roundtable’s otherwise unsteady take-off.
At its first meeting in April, the LaGuardia Committee was stalled since it lacked a quorum and was unable to elect officers. But on June 21, Flushing activist John Kelly counted the number of voting members in attendance. When he reached 22—the number required to meet the requirement for a quorum as outlined in the bylaws as “50 percent, plus one” of all committee members—the room burst into cheers.
“We hit the mark!” Kelly exclaimed. “Thank you everybody for coming out and making this night worthwhile.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo first ordered the creation of the roundtable in 2014 to bring local stakeholders, airlines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—which operates both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports—and Federal Aviation Administration together to discuss solutions to the problem of excessive airplane noise and other public health issues with regards to aviation.
But the roundtable’s history has been clouded by disagreements. For years, it struggled to pass bylaws that would give the group a unified structure for functioning. Those bylaws were finally passed in February and established two working committees—one for JFK and another for LaGuardia. While each committee meets separately and elects its own officers, representatives from both committees constitute the Roundtable Coordinating Committee.
Activist and Community Board 7 Second Vice Chairman Warren Schreiber, who has been serving as the interim chairman for the LaGuardia Committee, was formally elected to remain in that position for a full term. That makes him the official co-chairman of the Aviation Roundtable. Maria Becce, who sits on the Roundtable as a representative for U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), was elected as first vice chairwoman. Sey Schwartz was chosen as second vice chairman. Kelly was elected as recording secretary and, for now, will take over the group’s corresponding secretary position.
The committee also elected two “citizen members” to join the roundtable—Elaine Miller, of PlaneSense for Long Island, was selected for the first role, but Schreiber decided to wait to choose a second member until someone from western Queens, the Bronx or another region that’s not already well represented on the roundtable could be selected.
Additionally, Schreiber said that he had spoken to interim co-chairwoman Barbara Brown—who has yet to be voted in for the JFK Committee—about changing the “50 percent, plus one” quorum requirement, citing the difficulties the committee had in achieving it.
“As she pointed out to me, that’s even more difficult because ratification needs two-thirds [attendance],” Schreiber said.
Before the elections, the committee discussed a presentation by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding a proposed plan to make a temporary arrival procedure at LaGuardia’s runway 13 permanent. The procedure, which was instituted to accommodate construction on JFK runways, utilizes RNAV—or satellite-based navigation—during certain weather conditions to deconflict air traffic between JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Teterboro airports. It would now be a permanent part of LaGuardia’s arrival procedures and is estimated to count for less than 1 percent of arrivals. Some noise advocates have said that RNAV contributes to noise increases.
But some members were not thrilled with the FAA’s presentation and said that it was difficult to see the slides and understand the impact on their communities. While the FAA said that the presentation and information for public comment was distributed to the roundtable, Schreiber and committee members did not recall ever receiving it. A mailbox for public comment on the procedure was previously opened, closed and reopened the day after the meeting for 10 days. Public comments can be sent to 9-ATO-LGA-RNAV-GPS-RWY13@faa.gov.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story listed Maria Becce as part of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association. While she is an officer for the Association, she sits on the Roundtable as a representative for U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. This article has been updated to reflect that.