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Malvernites Fed Up With Noisy Flights, FAA Responds

Malverne Civic President urges residents to complain to FAA about "excessive" air traffic while FAA says no changes have been made to flight patterns.

The loud rumblings of planes passing over Malverne has some residents grumbling about what they say is a drastic uptick in air traffic and an excessive amount of noise for what was once a quiet village.

Peter Robideau, president of the Malverne Civic Association, says that on any given day as many as 30 planes might fly over his home, but this wasn't always the case.

In the 14 years he's lived in the village's Westwood section, the only time he would hear air traffic overhead was during inclement weather, when planes would need to be rerouted.

"Up until last summer, when JFK closed one of the active runways for construction, it was rare to hear jets flying overhead," Robideau wrote on one of the popular Malverne-oriented Facebook groups."We were told that the new traffic pattern was temporary and that once the runway was completed (which it was last summer) the traffic would go back to the way it was. Well, it hasn't."

In fact, it's gotten worse than it was last summer, according to Robideau.

Four to five days per week, starting around 8 a.m., flights will soar over his home for a few hours during the day and pick up again in the evening, he explained.

"They appear to be departing flights from JFK," he said, adding that the European planes are the worst offenders due to their heavy engines. "They're louder and stay lower longer."

Robideau said you don't just hear these flights when they pass but you feel them too.

"We're outside a lot in the summer, so we're sensitive to it but we also heard it in the winter. The windows rattled," he said. "It's definitely excessive."

He's not the only one who thinks so. The issue was brought up at a town-hall style meeting in Malverne last month with New York Assemblymen Brian Curran and Ed Ra. Malvernite Larry Hoppenhauer and a handful of other residents voiced concerns about the increase in air traffic noise, but when Robideau saw no one had made an effort to move the issue along he went where most Malverne residents go to tackle local problems lately - Facebook.

Tapping into the group established earlier this year to address concerns about the village's water quality, Robideau posted a message Tuesday urging residents who were also annoyed about the noise to make their voices heard.

He instructed them to call, email and file complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration, sharing this link with the group's members. Within minutes, others responded to his rally cry, including Bridget Hennessy Harkin, who said she had already been sounding off to officials about this.

"I have already been calling the complaint line and writing to both our senators. I thought I was going crazy," she said, adding that a plane passes directly over her home every two to three minutes and she can actually feel the vibrations.

"In one hour 28 planes flew over. What a nightmare," she said. "Whatever needs to be done I will do."

The air traffic is so bad that Bob Guthoff, a grandfather who lives in Malverne, said he wakes up scared each night when he hears the planes approaching. "I [would] be willing to help in someway with this," he wrote in response to Robideau's post.

Residents in nearby Garden City have also been about the rise in air traffic in their community. The village's Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Port Authority to more fairly distribute the frequency of low-flying aircraft over the village with other surrounding communities. 

Robideau said it's not only a quality of life issue but could also have a negative impact on people's property values.

"If you live in Howard Beach, you'd expect this. You knew what you were getting when you moved in," he said, "but we didn't buy into this."

He's optimistic that if enough residents speak up to local officials and government agencies who regulate air travel in the area they will have to address the problem.

"The louder the cry, the more action they're gong to take," he said. "If they get a handful of complaints they are going to ignore it but if they get a whole village of complaints they'll listen."

A spokeswoman for the F.A.A. said they have not changed any flight patterns going over Malverne or anywhere in Nassau County.

"Sometimes residents do hear more noise, because we use different runway configurations during the spring and summer than we do in the winter and fall," said Arlene Salac, explaining that these are based on wind directions.

She also said that residents may also be more sensitive to the noise in the summer time because they are outside more.

R. Callahan June 30, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Between 11pm and 1145pm it is a constant nonstop barrage of noise from the airplanes. You can't sleep. You can't watch television. You can't concentrate on reading. I thought I was the only one bothered by this. It needs to stop.
Stephen Canzoneri June 30, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Town of Hempstead has a aircraft noise abatement committee. Not sure if it's still around or not.

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