BY JON CRONIN
At last week’s Aviation Roundtable at Borough Hall, Barbara Brown, the roundtable’s co-chair, immediately flared state Sen. Senator Tony Avella’s (D-Bayside) ire when she mentioned considering they split into two roundtables.
As soon as Brown brought up the topic, Avella stood and retorted, and when she advised him that it was not up for discussion yet, that she was delivering an introduction to the meeting, Avella talked over her.
“No, Barbara, you have to let me speak,” he insisted as she asked him to let her finish her introductions. Avella then stated that the roundtable had already voted on one committee that would unify the JFK and LaGuardia committees. Brown believed the discussion for two roundtables should be had, as it was in a letter describing their purview written by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Avella bickered over legislation they both authored in their respective houses and which legislation had more authority. Brown noted while inquiring with other roundtables across the nation, she found there was only one per airport.
The argument went on for 40 minutes with many of the members of the roundtable staying quiet, as Avella, Brown, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), Titus, Max Kramer,a representative of Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-Nassau), and the other Co-Chair Warren Schreiber argued, sometimes emphatically and other times congenially. Braunstein noted that they should move on with the one roundtable idea and see how it works.
Finally, the table put it to a vote once again with most in favor of one roundtable.
The roundtable has been criticized in local media for having too much infighting while determining the roundtable’s by-laws and not enough advocating for quieter airspace in neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia and JFK airports.
They also voted on how to determine what neighborhoods would be included in the discussions. The threshold suggested was that it be set by sound recognized as 55 DNLs (Day-Night-Level) – DNL being the decibel level averaged over a 24 hour period. Brown noted that 55 DNLs is “quite far out”.
During this discussion Kramer asked to have more Nassau County residents sit on the roundtable and to have some of the meetings in Nassau. He said that more Nassau residents would come if they didn’t have to drive an hour to the meetings. Joan Garippa, a member of Community Board 11, felt the 55 DNL limit was not low enough.
“There are people who are very invested in what is going on,” she said.
Patrick Evans, a representative of the U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Rockaway) noted that many of the people who live closest to the runways by JFK and LaGuardia, “They don’t look like many of you people around the room.”
“People at the lowest end of the economic strata don’t come to these meetings, because they don’t have the luxury,” he added. He believes they should reach out to those communities.
Brown noted that the roundtable should reflect the diversity of the community. The board voted in favor of removing the 55 DNL limit.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin