BY LYNN EDMONDS
Ahead of the March 10 Aviation Roundtable meeting, one member was worried that the group was so mired in infighting that its greater purpose – to successfully lobby the Federal Aviation Authority – was getting lost.
Susan Carroll, a representative on the roundtable committee, said she feared that while the group was arguing over whether there should be two separate roundtables for LaGuardia and JFK, the FAA was moving ahead full-throttle on initiatives that nobody in the group supported.
“My personal take on it is that bylaws can be amended,” Carroll said. “The FAA is continuing to change flight paths. Those aren’t as easy to roll back.”
The controversy over the bylaws, and specifically whether there should be one or two roundtables, began at the first meeting airport roundtable meeting on April 28, 2014.
A month prior, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had directed the Port Authority to take several initiatives to address airplane noise. One of them was “community roundtable discussions.”
Though the press release spoke of two airport roundtables, President of Queens Quiet Skies Janet McEneaney said she had documentation showing Cuomo had originally called for one.
She felt there was a danger that two roundtables would create a zero-sum mindset with the two airports pitted against each other, rather than encouraging a mindset that reduced the noise altogether.
“Roundtable members – this is a very important principle – they agree that we will not shift noise from one community to another,” The Queens Chronicle quoted McEneany as saying during the first meeting.
But Barbara Brown, President of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said that JFK had additional concerns that were unique to that airport.
“If Newark has a roundtable, JFK should have a roundtable, so should LaGuardia,” Brown was quoted as saying in the Queens Tribune’s sister paper, Press of Southeast Queens.
Now, nearly two years since the roundtable formed, the group has not reached a resolution.
“Everybody is very passionate about this issue,” Carroll said. “But this is a fight that’s been going on for two years, which I thought was resolved two years ago.”
She added that she found the recent re-ignition of the debate to be “a very big setback.”
But McEneaney, who was amongst those who brought the issue back to the forefront, said the one-versus-two issue, and other changes in the bylaws, were too big to let pass.
“The difference is so crucial and the outcome is so crucial, that we’re not going to really have a roundtable under these proposed bylaws,” she said. “What they’ve done is they’ve dumbed it downed, they’ve eviscerated it, they’ve turned it into a power grab.”
In their different stances, both McEneaney and Carroll said they wanted unity.
“If we can’t even have a unified voice then I’m not sure what we’re going to accomplish,” Carroll said.
As long as the debate over bylaws continued, “we have no mechanism” to address legislation, Carroll stressed.
Recent and upcoming legislative issues include the lifting of the perimeter rule, which says that planes flying more than 1,500 cannot use the airport, at LaGuardia airport, and the FAA reauthorization bill.
“I fear what is going to happen at the March 10th meeting,” Carroll said.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana