BY TESS McRAE
Airport noise has plagued neighborhoods across the borough for decades. Changes have been made and proposals have been shared and yet the problem persists.
The latest attempt to permanently resolve this issue – a Part 150 compatibility study – was presented before Queens community board district leaders and Borough President Melinda Katz during a Borough Board meeting held on Monday.
“The goal is to find potential mitigation measures and reduce levels of aircraft noise deemed significant,” Edward Knoesel, senior manager of environmental and noise programs from the Aviation Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said. “It is the Port Authority’s feeling that this mechanism will improve compatibility between airports and surrounding communities.”
Though the procedure for a Part 150 compatibility study is lengthy, it essentially breaks down into two parts: creating a noise exposure map and a comprehensive mitigation plan to reduce noise where needed.
The exposure map is used to determine land use and noise impact using monitors install throughout the districts. The monitors pick up noise from the airplanes over head and translate it into data on the map. Areas that pick up more than 65 decibels and are determined to be “incompatible” for a flight path will be reviewed for mitigation.
“Incompatible areas are usually residential and schools, though we have worked hard to reduce aircraft noise in schools,” Knoesel said.
Should the studies – a separate map will be made for each airport – find incompatible areas, the Port Authority and Technical Advisement Committee, assembled from various stakeholders, will move forward and determine appropriate remediation measures.
Noise issues are typically resolved through noise abatement or mitigation. Part 150 studies conducted in other states have used sound walls and even insolated homes to reduce noise. A more drastic resolution, most recently done in Kentucky, would be to buy out businesses or the homes of families living on incompatible land and relocate them to more appropriate areas.
“That isn’t really possible in an area like New York City,” Knoesel said.
The district managers and Katz were impressed by the proposal, but were concerned by the accessibility of the TAC groups.
“I think it would make sense to have community board members or something on these committees,” Community Board 5 District Manager Vincent Arcuri Jr. said.
Katz and several other board members echoed his suggestion.
Knoesel said he would look into including board members on TAC groups.
The Port Authority also presented plans before area residents near John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia International airports.
“There is no doubt this has been an issue for decades,” Katz said at the end of the presentation. “We are hopeful and thankful that people are listening. It is though, difficult to understand with all this technology, how we can make planes bigger and land them on top of one another and yet we can’t make them quieter.”
Reach Editor Tess McRae at (718) 357-7400 ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @tess_mcrae.