BY JORDAN GIBBONS
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey hosted a meeting at York College in Jamaica on Nov. 20 with the purpose of discussing and voting on a proposed structure for an Aviation Community Roundtable.
After much discussion, no vote was held due to an issue similar to what initiated the roundtable process altogether; too much noise.
Ralph Tragale, the Port Authority’s assistant director of aviation, introduced the proposed structure, which was illustrated by a venn diagram that had a John F. Kennedy International Airport roundtable and a LaGuardia Airport roundtable with a coordinating committee in the middle represented by members from each roundtable.
Tragale said that this was only a proposed structure, because ultimately it should be up to the communities to decide what they want.
“We have to make decisions to go forward. My hope is that we get to a point where we can agree on a structure and then the Port Authority sits down like the rest of everybody else,” he said. “The community leads the effort and votes as a group. We don’t want to dictate to you, because that obviously hasn’t worked so well. This is your roundtable.”
Unfortunately, the Port Authority’s new approach did not seem popular among those in attendance. Originally, the Port Authority proposed two roundtables, one for each airport, but representatives from Queens Quiet Skies opposed that idea.
Janet McEneaney, president of Queens Quiet Skies, said that there needs to be one communal roundtable because both airports are in one county and there should be one governing body.
“We understand that this is one big tent and everything that happens at one airport effects everybody who lives by other airports,” she said. “We understand that we cannot divide them, yet we also understand that each airport community and each airport is different and has its own concerns. There’s really very little difference to what we’re saying.”
But Barbara Brown, president of Eastern Queens Alliance, said that there are a variety of issues at JFK that do not occur at LaGuardia so there should be two roundtables with a committee to convene in between them.
“We know that there needs to be some sort of coordinating committee to deal with issues that cut across airports, but not in a hierarchical kind of situation,” Brown said. “If Newark has a roundtable, JFK should have a roundtable, so should LaGuardia. We need a decision based on logic.”
The Port Authority also proposed a list of 32 members for each airport, comprised of community board members, district residents, business owners, labor unions and civic organization members.
Tragale was clear in stating that this was a proposed list that the Port Authority thought could work, but the representatives and amount of members were flexible.
“If you want somebody else on there and you think somebody has too much representation, then we’ll change it, you’ll change it,” he said. “We’re just here to facilitate.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.