Hear jets’ roar - Many jeer flight paths

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It’s not a bird, it’s a plane—many planes—flying overhead at a prodigious rate and disrupting life in pastoral Park Slope, fed up residents said this week.

“It’s horrendous,” said Josie Williams, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years.

She said that in the past year, the noise seems to have gotten worse.

“They just do what they need to do to accommodate the large volume,” Williams said.

Aircraft scream by at a clip of roughly 88 every hour, arriving or departing from LaGuardia Airport, which has just four runways on its 680 acres, Williams said. During peak hours, the planes fly as low as 1,800 feet—at one-minute intervals, she noted.

“This is really an invasion of the community,” Williams continued. “We don’t have major highways—this is a very quiet community. You can’t really sit outside or use your backyard.”

Sixth Street resident Terry Radigan said that when she looks upward, she sees the equivalent of “the sky version of the Long Island Expressway.”

She said she doesn’t want the problem to be pushed to other residential areas, but she is hopeful that with lobbying, flight paths might be amended to direct planes over less heavily populated enclaves.

“There is just a constant flow of plans—and some of them are flying really low altitude and are really noisy,” she added.

Fifth Street resident Roger Tully said that on certain days, “it sounds like they are coming one after the other, and flying lower than they should be.”

He suggested planes fly over Prospect Park more often, using the lush open space as a natural noise buffer.

Tully, a commercial photographer who often travels, said he’s been on flights “when you can look right down into your backyard.”

On Thursday, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were planning to answer residents’ questions at a meeting of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee.

The FAA holds the responsibility for the management of airspace and route utilization into La Guardia based on factors that include, weather and runway availability.

Williams has formed the Park Slope Quality of Life Committee in order to organize locals united to combat the noise pollution they say is being generated.

Williams said her committee will request that the flight paths be shifted to “less populated areas” near the Gowanus Expressway, Fourth Avenue, Prospect Park during late-night hours, and across Staten Island, the East River, and Brooklyn Heights.

Another request is that noise monitors be installed to record decibel levels, ensuring that the flight altitudes are adhering to FAA guidelines, Williams said.

Arlene Salac, a spokesperson for the FAA, said there have been no changes in flight patterns over the Park Slope area.

“At times, when the seasons change, we use different approaches based on the wind. Sometimes we see complaints regarding aircraft noise at those times,” she noted.

Asked if the perceived worsening of the situation was legitimate, Salac added, “I can’t speak for the community.”

Officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the airport, were also expected to attend. The meeting was held as this paper went to press.

The officials’ presence was brokered by Rep. Yvette Clarke, who did not return a call for comment by press time.

The FAA is in the beginning stages of implementing its Airspace Redesign Project, a plan whose goal is to increase airline efficiency in the New York metropolitan area. So far, only changes out of Newark Liberty International Airport have been tweaked, Salac said.

Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, said the hope is that the committee meeting will yield “a healthy exchange that will impress upon them the seriousness of the problem.”

Hammerman, a Park Slope resident, said the noise is hard to ignore.

“I can’t say that I am completely oblivious to it,” he admitted.

Updated 3:48 pm, October 19, 2011
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