Already aggravated residents were even more peeved when they learned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Port Authority officials were a no-show at Monday night's packed Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) meeting in Garden City.
Kendall Lampkin, TVASNAC executive director, said officials from the FAA, Port Authority and the NextGEN division in Washington, D.C. all declined the invitation.
"Last time I checked, the FAA is a federal agency. Their employees are paid with our tax dollars. And the fact that they're not here is outrageous," said Ray Gaudio, a TVASNAC member who represents East Williston, to rousing applause.
Laurence Quinn, Garden City village trustee and fellow TVASNAC member, told Patch the committee learned that FAA officials weren't attending on Thursday and Friday.
"They were coming as of two weeks ago ... Between Thursday and Friday we got this bevy of emails saying 'we can't show,'" he said. "So it wasn't that something came up. They decided they weren't going to show up."
In a prepared statement, FAA officials said, "The FAA and the Port Authority will continue to work together and coordinate with community groups, such as TVASNAC, to address issues and concerns for communities that are impacted by aircraft and airport noise. We have a long working relationship with TVASNAC, and the FAA has regularly attended its monthly meetings. We expect to do so in the future when we have adequate time to prepare materials in response to meeting agendas and to make sure that the right FAA personnel are available to attend the meeting."
Still, approximately 150 people did show up, from as far away as Rockaway, Queens, to hear what FAA officials had to say about the recent surge in aircraft coming in and out of JFK airport and what the administration was doing to improve what residents' describe as their diminishing quality of life.
Larry Hoppenhauer, TVASNAC's newest member, represents Malverne. He addressed the Thursday night incident in which black oily sludge allegedly fell from a plane onto a couple enjoying the unseasonably warm weather in their yard.
"After three days we're presuming the 'sludge' was harmless," he said, "but it could've been something worse and we have a right to know what's falling from the sky."
Irene Villacci, representing Sen. Dean Skelos, also addressed the incident.
"To have this sludge fall from the sky was a sign of destruction of our quality of life," she said.
The FAA visited Malverne days after the meeting and wrapped up its .
TVASNAC meetings had been held at up until last month, when the group sought a .
The FAA reauthorization bill, which passed Congress, provides funding for the NextGEN procedure. Shams Tarek, communications director for McCarthy, said the congresswoman voted against the bill because of its lack of a requirement of an environmental impact statement (EIS).
"As far as she was concerned, the lack of requirement for an environmental impact study was enough for her to say no," he said. "Unfortunately, it's a very local issue to us, but there are 435 members of congress voting and as you know the bill passed."
Tarek said McCarthy continues to work with her senate colleagues and talk to FAA officials and community members.
"Hopefully there can be enough public response. Moving forward there may be another opportunity to get some kind of an EIS," he said. "It's not required of course but that doesn't mean it can't happen."
Lampkin said this kind of advocacy is critical.
"The Port Authority runs Kennedy airport, but it also runs LaGuardia, Newark and Teterboro. Because of that it's one of the few airport sponsors that do not have to do what's called a Part 150 study ... [which] makes an airport take a look at every possible opportunity to mitigate noise," he said. "If they can't they have to say why. The Port Authority was grandfathered into not having to do this and because of that this lack of an EIS ... is critically important."
Lampkin added, "Quality of life is so important."
For more information on this issue, visit www.quietskies.net and/or www.quietovergc.com. Email the FAA noise complaint mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public comment period on NextGEN ends March 7.