Residents Sound Off On LaGuardia Airplane Noise, But No Relief on Horizon
JACKSON HEIGHTS — The weekends are when physician Reena Karani, 43, says she likes to sleep in at her apartment and just "live."
The past year, though, she's been woken up at sunrise to the "absolutely ear-shattering" sound of jets above her Jackson Heights apartment, just seconds after take off from nearby LaGuardia Airport.
"The weekends have become unbearable," she said, noting that this has been the loudest of her 13 years in the neighborhood.
She's not the only one.
A town hall meeting on Nov. 25, sponsored by Councilman Danny Dromm, was packed with dozens of residents who say the sound of airplanes over their heads — often in the very early morning, on weekends — has become hard to adjust to.
And while officials listened to their concerns, there was no immediate relief in sight.
"It's about time that they take into account that we live here," said resident Janet McEneaney. She is the founder of Queens Quiet Skies, a group made up of residents who live around airports —and under those noisy, persistent flight patterns that, she said, "sounds like the beginning opening credits of M*A*S*H."
Representatives from the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration said the early-morning weekend air traffic is the result of construction on one of the two runways in LaGuardia, resulting in planes landing and taking off in a similar pattern.
And the more frequent plane noise is the result of a new flight pattern called NextGen that is meant to cut down on air pollution but has also made takeoffs and landing much louder for residents.
NextGen allows for more frequent takeoffs and landings, using GPS to track planes with precision. The program is also better for the environment, according to the FAA, and flying is becoming more fuel-efficient.
It was approved, though, without community input.
McEneaney said Queens Quiet Skies is hoping to give residents more of a say in flight pattern decisions through a roundtable with officials. The group is also pushing for more noise monitors and a full environmental impact study of these changes.
There are two permanent and two temporary noise monitors in place near La Guardia — compared with 10 at John F. Kennedy Airport and 40 at Los Angeles International Airport.
A representative from the Port Authority, Van Praagh, said they have no immediate plans to add more monitors but are working with contractors to determine if — and where— they should install more.
He also said the Port Authority would be rolling out a new website in January which will allow residents to lodge complaints about noise as well as track construction updates and runway changes that may way them up.
Meanwhile, residents living under the roar of planes may not have any relief in the future, especially on weekends.
Afzal Jossain, 37, owns Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights and lives nearby. The planes "feel like it's on top of your head."
"I liked that there was a meeting," he said, but added, "I don't know how successful the answers are."