BY LYNN EDMONDS
Queens residents who are fed up with airplane noise can request that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey install a noise monitor on their house as part of a study that the authority is undertaking to measure airplane noise surrounding La Guardia Airport. A simultaneous study is taking place at JFK Airport.
The end result of the study, called the Part 150 Area Study, will be a detailed, color-coded map that shows the noise level in rings around the airport. That information will be used to make recommendations to the Federal Aviation Authority as to how they can mitigate the noise effects, possibly through actions such as changing flight patterns or insulating buildings. Eighty percent of funding to pay for the implementation of those recommendations will come from the federal government. The study recommendations are not binding and they must not negatively affect safety or be prohibitively expensive.
Though the noise exposure map will measure multiple steps of noise pollution, one of the critical thresholds is 65 decibels, or about as loud as a normal-to-slightly-loud conversation. The FAA may undertake actions to mitigate noise for properties with this level of noise exposure, especially sensitive locations like schools, houses of worship and hospitals.
The study began in October 2014 and will be completed in August 2017, with an estimated cost of $8 million. The impetus for the study was a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo ordered that the Port Authority undertake the area study, as well as host two community roundtables on airplane noise, double the number of noise monitors, create a dedicated noise office and maintain a new website for tracking flights so the especially noisy ones can be identified.
Warren Schreiber, who is Interim Vice Chair of the New York Community Aviation Roundtable that the Cuomo directive called for, as well as a member of Community Board 7, said that in some ways, the study was affirming what residents near the airport already knew.
“Sometimes it looks as though I can just reach up and touch [the planes], and the ground is shaking; I don’t need someone to tell me that that’s a problem,” he said.
But he said he was glad the Port Authority was undertaking the study.
“I still think it’s worth the effort. As long as we have the information, we can use that as ammunition in our arguments,” Schreiber said.
Those interested in installing the noise monitors on their property must have an electrical outlet that the outdoor device can plug into, a good wireless connection, and not have a lot of ambient noise coming from other sources that would impact the results. The Port Authority will reimburse the charge that these 200-pound devices will incur on residents’ electrical bills, usually just about $5.
At the CB 7 meeting last Monday, one member from college point volunteered to install a monitor at his home.
But one aspect of the study that community members have been less than happy with is the makeup of the Technical Advisory Committee, which was determined by the Port Authority.
Only one member of the committee will be an unpaid volunteer from the community.
“My main concern is that you have a Technical Advisory Committee that is so top heavy with industry people, government people,” Schreiber said.
Another CB 7 member expressed concern about the board’s makeup as well.
“I don’t see representatives from Flushing and College Point, where we bear the brunt of the airplane noise,” Alison Tan said.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana