The Nassau County Aviation Committee (NCAC) and Plane Sense 4 LI, a community group working together to reduce air traffic and noise pollution, held a press conference on Friday, May 17, outside the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative building in Mineola to announce a piece of legislation that was created due to the excessive planes flying over Nassau County.
The NCAC is introducing a bill that would require the New York State departments of environmental conservation and transportation to conduct a study on the environmental and human health impacts and to examine and report on the effects of the air traffic from John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.
This legislation was prompted by an increased number of complaints as a result of the changing air traffic patterns, which has led to low-flying planes, noise pollution and environmental impacts.
Senator Jim Gaughran said, “The high volume of airplane traffic on Long Island is a tremendous nuisance to Long Islanders, with noise level far above the average noise threshold. This occurrence has grown progressively severe and more frequent with recent changes in flight patterns and an overall increase in air traffic. This raises serious questions about potential environmental impacts, effects from noise pollution and other possible negative impacts. This study is essential to identifying the environmental and health effects that thousands of Long Islanders experience every day.”
The NCAC consists of 16 elected officials from both political parties. Since the creation of the committee four months ago, they conducted their first meeting on April 30, and have now put together this legislation that they hope will pass as a bill. The co-leaders of Plane Sense 4 LI have been fighting for equitable distribution of flights, higher altitudes and for health studies to be conducted for the last few years, with no resolution or response from Port Authority or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Jana Goldenberg, co-leader of Plane Sense 4 LI stated the problem exists all over the nation, but communities on Long Island like Roslyn, Williston Park and Valley Stream are greatly affected.
“We just want to spread the word,” said Goldenberg. “Everybody needs to know the impacts and implications of what this is doing.”
“Today we stand unified together to stand against the FAA and the Port Authority, to say that Nassau County needs representation when it comes to airplane noise. Listen here Port Authority and FAA, listen to us today, we need a great quality of life and you need to listen to us, we are not going to be quiet,” Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, member of the NACA stated.
One Albertson resident said there were no signs of plane noise when he first bought his home in 2016. Three years later he explained, “I think the worst feeling was when I saw my 4-year-old daughter playing outside and covering her ears when the loudest airplane flew above us on a nice spring day. A blanket of noise and air pollution is falling over us and we don’t know what we’re breathing in because environmental studies [have not been] properly [conducted]. My feeling is that another Flint, Michigan is underway, right here on Long Island; instead of polluted water, we have polluted air,” he said.
In attempts to voice her frustration, Mindy Wekselblatt, a resident of East Hills, has attended local meetings and owns an air noise button.
The Airnoise button was founded by Chris McCann, a software engineer and former Air Force test pilot. The button is programmed to the wifi monitor in your home and with a single click, the button automatically locates the nearest aircraft and registers a complaint with the correct airport.
Wekselblatt said, “I feel like I’m a prisoner in my neighborhood, not just my home. It is unnerving, the frequency and how low the planes are. It has continued to get worse over the last several years. I am at my wits end, it is unbearable at times. I keep relatively quiet because I fear what it will do to the value of our homes. I am petrified of the health hazards to come as a result of the toxic fumes.”
Valerie Elmalem, a resident of Roslyn Heights, explained her day to day life with the excessive plane noise.
“We moved here in the fall of 2017 when runway 22L was under construction. No one told us this area was under a flight path and we were not concerned because we are far from the airport and we did not hear planes. Some days, it is so unbearable, we leave the house just to be able to relax. We tried attic insulation [and] changing the windows, but we still hear the planes. It is incredibly stressful to be stuck in a house with this much noise,” Elmalem said.
“The Roslyn residents think nothing can be done, so they don’t bother to show up to meetings or call their politicians. Change needs to happen, we cannot continue to be abused by the FAA without having a say,” she added.
Residents of the Town of Hempstead can voice their concerns at the next town hall meeting, which will be hosted by Supervisor Laura Gillen on Wednesday, May 29, at the Elmont Memorial Library at 7 p.m. The Nassau County Aviation Committee’s next meeting will be Sept. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Nassau Community College.