The sound of jets arriving and departing at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, which has irked many Nassau County residents for years, was the main topic of discussion at a public meeting in Malverne last week. Advocacy group Plane Sense 4 Long Island organized the meeting, where they gathered representatives of local elected leaders to meet with residents. People at the meeting spoke about how jet noise has gotten worse in recent years.
“I don’t ever remember it ever being this bad as it has been in the last 10 years,” said State Assemblyman Brian Curran. “The Part 150 studies were being held over us for a very long time. I was hopeful for that. My hope has kind of dissipated a little in regards to the Part 150s.”
Part 150 studies, conducted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, examine the effect of jet noise in areas below the flight paths of Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. But he studies exclude most parts of Long Island because many of the Island’s plane noise monitors — which measure plane sound intensity — have indicated that day-night average sound levels are below the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of significant noise — about 65 decibels.
“It’s a very, very stressful issue,” said Justin Connor, a representative of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi. “We’re trying our best, but it’s very complicated, and you’re dealing with the Port Authority and the FAA. They’re very, very powerful organizations to go up against.”
Ann Marie Cullen, a lifelong Malverne resident, said she took comfort in seeing that people shared her concerns. “I think the volume of the planes has to be looked at, and Nassau County needs a bigger voice,” Cullen said. “We don’t live in Queens, but we matter, and what they do affects us, so we should have a bigger voice.”
“While one of our priorities is to get more representation for Nassau County residents, our partners in Queens do share a lot of same issues that we’re experiencing,” said Tom Curry, a representative of U.S. Rep Kathleen Rice. “We’re all in this together, but I, too, would like to see more representation from Nassau County.”
Conner Dunleavy, a representative of State Assemblyman Ed Ra, said that both Democrats and Republicans agree that jet noise is an issue. “It’s not political. It’s bipartisan,” Dunleavy said. “It’s about how people’s lives are getting affected by this on a daily basis, and it’s really getting to the point where we need action on this. And I’m glad that we’re working very closely with our state, federal and our local representatives as well to address these concerns. This is a people issue.”
“About eight to 10 years ago, I got into it because the noise got significantly worse,” said Laurence Quinn, a member of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee, who lives in New Hyde Park. “If I have one plane that wakes me up, that same plane is going to keep me up for hours.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who is co-sponsoring a bill that would direct the state Department of Conservation to conduct a study on the environmental and health impacts of JFK and LaGuardia, said that the decibel levels allowed in New York were set 40 years ago, and other states now have much lower thresholds.
“We need to be able to bring objective evidence to them, and that’s why I think the study is so important,” Kaminsky said. “From the state level, it’s one of the few things we could really do to try to push the federal government to do the right thing, so I think it’s a good first step.”
He added that while he believes that Nassau needs a stronger voice, jet noise is an issue that affects people in Queens as well. The bigger issue, he said, is getting the federal government to pay attention. “We really need to push this to the forefront and get this on their radar, I guess, pun intended,” Kaminsky said, “and really try to push this issue forward.”
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