Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy made a special appearance at Monday night's meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee and made a promise to Nassau residents fed up with the noisy planes flying over their homes.
After months of getting the "run-around" from officials at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who have been accused of passing the blame back-and-forth rather than working together, McCarthy said she's made it her goal to "bring them together ... hopefully by September."
On Aug. 2, McCarthy sent a follow-up letter (see attached) addressed to Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the FAA, and Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, requesting both agencies commit to a memorandum of understanding, addressing their respective responsibilities in mitigating aircraft noise. This document, she says, would represent "a formal starting point for residents and local elected officials alike to work with both entities in a manner that reduces noise pollution over the skies of Nassau County."
McCarthy, who represents the 4th Congressional district and lives in Mineola, also vowed to arrange a meeting between TVASNAC and United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
"We have to go to the top now," McCarthy said during the 30 minutes she spent fielding questions and concerns from TVASNAC members and residents at the meeting held in the Stewart Manor Country Club. "Certainly, we've been talking to [LaHood's] people here on the state level and on the federal level, but now it's time for him to get involved, because he can make those decisions and make things happen faster."
Garden City Village Trustee and TVASNAC representative Laurence Quinn told McCarthy his main concern is planes using low-altitude visual approaches as they come over his neighborhood, a complaint echoed by residents in attendance.
"The FAA will do nothing unless our elected officials compel them or a federal judge rules they have to do something. "We need your help desperately,"added Ray Gaudio, East Williston's TVASNAC representative, who says his community and others living under Runway 22L are getting more than their fair share of flights.
The increased traffic on 22L during the past nine months, according to Mary-Grace Tomecki, Floral Park's TVASNAC member, is the result of Runway 31L being closed for extended periods of time due to the failure of concrete installed as part of a $363.5 million construction project.
"Until Runway 31L is repaired, 22L will continue to bear the burden," Tomecki said, asking McCarthy when the runway will be fixed and why "a $363.5 million project has concrete failure?"
McCarthy said she did not know who was awarded the contract, but did say there needs to be better oversight on how money is being spent, adding "sometimes the lowest bid is not the best bid."
She says Congressional oversight has gotten better in recent years, but was discouraged that an amendment she supported, which would have blocked contractors with poor performance records from receiving future contracts, was recently killed in Congress.
"That is terrible … cronyism," she added.
Frank Scatturro, who is challenging McCarthy for her seat this November, also spoke up, stating, "We need congressional oversight badly and I don't believe we're getting it."
Check back tomorrow to see Part II of our coverage of the Aug. 27 TVASNAC meeting, which will explore expert recommendations presented to the board on how they can take action to access federal funds to address the noise problem.