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Rattled Residents Grill Port Authority Official on Plane Noise

Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee hosts meeting in Malverne.

The fight over the amount of noisy planes flying over Nassau County communities came to Malverne Monday night, where residents expressed their frustration to the man in charge of monitoring the racket.

Edward Knoesel, manager of environmental services for the aviation department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates nearby JFK Airport, was the guest speaker at the May 22 meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee. (The coalition of 14 villages in the Town of Hempstead has been meeting monthly to press the Port Authority and Federal Aviation Administration to address residents’ noise complaints and safety concerns.) FAA officials failed to attend.

Knoesel delivered a report on operations at JFK during the past 12 months and what noise monitors in the area recorded.

His figures showed that between May 2011 and April 2012 JFK’s four runways – 4L/R, 13L/R, 22 L/R and 31L/R – dealt with a total of 414,859 arrivals and departures. July 2011 saw the most traffic – 39,429 flights. In that month, 22L, which has been a major concern for residents in Garden City, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, East Williston and Stewart Manor, whose homes are under the flight path for planes landing on that runway, handled by far the most arrivals, 7,538. That’s 76 percent more than Runway 31R, the next busiest with 4,291 arrivals, and 142 percent more than 13L, which had 3,119. (Combined 4 L and R had only 2,201.)

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The figures supported what many residents in these communities have been saying for months.

“We’re getting more than our fair share,” said Ray Gaudio, the TVASNAC representative for East Williston. According to his calculations, 22L had about a third of all arrivals at JFK last year.

Knoesel responded, “We actively work with the FAA to try to ensure that they are moving the traffic around to best of their ability … but we don't dictate what they do.”

He explained that on several occasions, , the FAA has publicly stated that it uses four criteria when selecting runways, starting with availability, wind and weather conditions, operational efficiency and then lastly, noise consideration.

“Thank you for providing the data to confirm our complaints,” stated Laurence Quinn, a village trustee and TVASNAC member for Garden City. During the meeting, Quinn also used his stopwatch to time the frequency of the planes passing over Malverne Village Hall and found they were coming every 1 minute and 29 seconds.

“Notice the two trains that went by? Which noise was louder even though the tracks are located right behind us?” he added, to which some residents in the audience shouted, “The planes!”

The frequent planes flying over the village of Malverne and neighboring communities are actually departing, not landing.

Pointing to a diagram of the runways at JFK, Larry Hoppenhauer, the TVASNAC rep for Malverne, showed that 98 percent of the departures affecting Malverne are coming out of 22R and the Bay Runway, which is made up of 13R and 31L. In July 2011, the Bay Runway dealt with 10,444 departures and 22R had 6,613, while the other five runways only handled a combined total of roughly 2,100.

Hoppenhauer urged all those in attendance and others watching at home via Malverne TV to lodge noise complaints with both the Port Authority and the FAA, and to contact their local politicians to urge them to pressure the two agencies to work together to address the issues. He provided a hand-out to the residents with all the contact information for these parties, as well as other important resources. (You can view it in the PDFs section above.)

"Unless we can get our elected officials behind us it’s going to be a long haul," he said.

What the Port Authority and FAA do with the noise complaints they do receive was a question posed by a number of TVASNAC representatives to Knoesel.

He explained that his office does not respond to every complaint it receives, stating, “We get a lot of calls, a good majority come from the same household.” Instead, they look at the trends and for complaints that indicate a pilot may have deviated from protocols, such as callers saying a plane is flying "so low you could throw a rock at it,” he said.

Other questions posed during the night concerned the noise levels that have been measured by the nine portable monitors that are located in Inwood, Woodmere, Arverne, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Cedarhust, Atlantic Beach and Floral Park.

If noise levels exceed 65 dBA, efforts must be taken by the parties responsible to either lower it or sound-proof schools in those communities.  For July 2011, the average noise levels recorded by the monitor in Cedarhurst was 75.1; for Woodmere it was 74.7.

Even if a community is right on the cusp of the 65 dBA level though, such as Floral Park, which recorded average noise levels in the low 60s for 11 out of the 12 months, Knoesel said, the FAA and Port Authority are not required to do anything to alleviate the noise impact in these areas.

“Who set that standard of 65? Someone who lives in Westchester?” Hoppenhauer said.

“It’s based on FAA regulations,” Knoesal said, adding that anything below 65 is not considered to have a “significant impact.”

“So the one that sets the regulations is the one who benefits most from the regulations,” Hoppenhauer stated.

Nassau County Legis. Fran Becker and a representative for Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy posed a few questions to Knoesal and Bill Huisman, of the Aviation Development Council, and expressed their commitment to help the communities in their fight for quieter skies.

Several residents in attendance from Malverne, Garden City, Valley Stream and Floral Park then hurled questions and complaints in Knoesal’s direction when given the chance to speak.

One Malverne resident called for an investigation of the FAA’s recent airspace redesign.  Another, who is an attorney now but had worked in international business for 25 years, provided some insight about what the residents are up against.

“There is money to be made … they want to keep the ambiguity, that’s the politics,” he said, but explained that there are legal routes the public can take to force government agencies to disclose information beyond FOIL requests.

A number of residents also proposed routing more planes over the ocean instead of Long Island’s densely populated suburbia.

“What will it take a plane falling on a house and someone getting killed? … This has been going on for three years and I’m sick of fighting this fight,” said Gina Fornasar, of Garden City. She has spoken out at past meetings about how the frequent noisy planes, which fly over her home (sometimes every 42 seconds) impact her autistic son and most likely, degrade the air quality in the neighborhood.

“What are you doing to our children? What are you doing to our community?” she added. “Something has to be done.”

TVASNAC’s next meeting will be back in Lawrence Village Hall, its primary location, on June 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Jeff May 23, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Hmmm very loud last night around 11:00 PM, plane after plane after plane and again around 5AM.
Peter Robideau May 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
So basically the rep from the Port Authority is telling us that the only impact that we can have is to have as many different households call and leave complaints. Also, we should contact our elected officials and lodge complaints with them as well. Sounds like a good strategy - lets get 1000 different callers going on this. Count me as 1 of them, and thanks Tara for including that PDF with all the contact info. Yes, plane noise was really bad in Malverne again last night and this morning.
John Coyle May 23, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Horrible over the past few nights in Malverne. You literally cannot watch tv
Jeanne D'Esposito May 23, 2012 at 08:24 PM
It always seems to be worse in bad weather. I suspect certain wind conditions make it safer to take off from the runway that flies over us. But I will make note of how to register complaints and start complaining. Maybe we should start monitoring the noise decibels the way other towns did. I bet we're over the limit too. Thanks for the great informative article Tara.
Tom Grech May 24, 2012 at 01:25 AM
In an effort to make sure that each issue gets the attention they each deserve; I took the liberty of starting a TVASNAC page so the noise issues are separate from the water issues.....if anyone out there who holds this issue near and dear wants admin responsibilty, inbox me....Tom Grech
incognito2u May 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Are there any "Noise Monitors" in place within the Village???? And if not, how do we go about getting them installed?
jc108 May 24, 2012 at 07:23 PM
As a Malverne resident for over ten yrs, I wish the residents would be as passionate and upset over our rising taxes every year and our overpriced police dept. And dont forget about our sanitation workers who work 4hrs a day but get paid for 8hrs ! And what about all the school taxes we pay but send our kids to private schools. One of the reasons I moved to Malverne was its close proximity to the airports/city. As far as the airplane noise, yes airplanes do make noise but luckly the landscapers lawnmowers drown out the noise EVERY morning at 8. As far as putting up "Noise Monitors", are you kidding? Who is going to pay for that? We all moved here by choice and we can all leave by choice, planes will continue to fly over head and yes they will make noise, I just hope the residents make some noise about not being able to afford living here any more. See you at the airport. MERZBOW
James Joseph May 24, 2012 at 09:55 PM
@jc108 your comments are noted and then burned. The issue is its been worse than ever before with the Plane noise. As for taxes and over paid this and that. I love paying my high taxes because I am in small town America in the middle of the tri-state area, I work in the city and coming home to Malverne is like coming home to the country. You pay a vig for that no matter where you live. As for the cops pay them more Malverne has a reputation for being safe well its because the cops have attitudes and if you do your part you'll never see that attitude first hand. As for the school I have one in the dist and very happy about it, its the silly gooses in this village that do not use the schools that give it bad name, but that's slowly changing. I have lived in Malverne 37 years and that's just how old I am. Worked in C-town for many years during school (Mark, Hector, Alan I even remember their parents running the joint) I remember the five and dime store as a kid, its memories like that, that not many people have these days in this screwed up world. I love it here and I would pay more to keep just as it is. I just wish there was another pub to go to. So where you might not care about the noise some do and don't belittle it because your bitter about something else. Have a nice holiday and see you at the parade honoring men and women who fought to have towns like Malverne exist.
jc108 May 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM
James, pull your head out of the sand and take off the rose colored glasses and take a good look around the village. Why do you think there are so many vacant store fronts? Tri color photo, wich takes up half a city block on Hempstead Ave has been vacant for over three years. Why are there no more five and dime stores or mom and pop shops in the village, that you so fondly remember ? Is it because of all the plane noise? As far as your "loving paying high taxes" comment, why dont you ask the seniors and your fellow neighbors in the village how they feel about paying higher taxes, I think you might find out that they are not quite as excited about it as you are. What did you mean when you said the cops have "attitutes" ? In my experience with the police, they have been nothing but professional, what point were you trying to make? Now, if the residents want to complain about airplane noise that is their choice. I was just pointing out other issues that in my opinion also deserve attention. Elected officials must be held accoutable when they spend the peoples money. And yes James, I will be at the parade, as a veteran of two wars I will be marching.You see, I am one of those men who fought to have a Country like this exist.
James Joseph May 25, 2012 at 01:43 AM
First I apologize if I offended you in anyway that was not my intent second thank you!!! My comment about the Police is a stereotypical comment about the Malverne Police for the past however many decades, nothing new there. People mind their P's and Q's driving through Malverne and I am fine with that. It’s a compliment to them and doing a fine job. The vacant shops I have no answer for but if the village didn't have such a big "do not" list and let a bigger chain in maybe Tri-Color wouldn't be empty for so long. If you limit what can go some place you limit who will rent it hence taking more time to find the right tenant. The five and dime stores those are memories. A chain I don't mean Target or Best Buy maybe something like Trader Joe along that line. Your other point of paying higher taxes, well that's where you got me I figure if your here you have the money, I guess I am wrong there to assume everyone would be happy about it. Being a Veteran you do know you could save 50% on your Village tax, I know someone who lives in a village right next door and they are considerer a disable Veteran because of alot of hearing loss and he saves more than that. If you are not aware of this send me an email and I will forward you some info for someone to speak to. I did not want to not inform you of it because you are a Veteran I feel it necessary to take care of the men and women as you said "to have a Country like this exist" and your 150% correct. Thank You!!!!!
jc108 May 25, 2012 at 01:09 PM
James, Thanks for your comments. I also apologize if I offended you in any way. That was not my intent. Like you, I love living in this village for the same reasons you stated, but we just have to make sure that our hard earned dollar is being spent prudently. "Doveryai, no prooveryai" as Ronald Reagan would say (trust but verify). Your observation about the village being too restrictive when it comes to "chain" stores is spot on. Now i agree that certian chain stores would not be appropriate for the village but others should at least be considered. Thanks for the info re: tax brakes for Vererans, I am aware of the program. Have a nice weekend!

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