All they want is some peace and quiet.
A Whitestone resident is taking the issue of overhead helicopter noise into the hands of the community by developing a website for residents to digitally submit complaints.
Technology consultant Daniel Aronoff launched the beta test version of his site, “Stop the Chop NY,” on June 24 in an effort to fight back against sound pollution from helicopters and small airplanes flying over north Queens. Information gathered on the site will be sent to local city, state and federal representatives to appeal for their help in seeking relief.
“We wanted to have a community engine that we could control to try to effect change,” said Aronoff, who has lived in Whitestone in 2013 after purchasing a house his grandparents owned in the 1950s.
The site is being spread to the Whitestone community by Aronoff and civic group We Love Whitestone, and has already garnered more than 130 noise complaints. It will be open to other affected communities in mid-July after troubleshooting for operational issues which may occur during the initial trial period.
Features set to be added to the site in the near future include maps of collected complaints and the ability to submit reports of multiple incidents at the same time.
While a site designed by aircraft noise complaint company PlaneNoise is used by the Port Authority to officially collect complaints about airplane, Aronoff saw a need for an additional page because citizens are not able to easily access data collected from that site. Some residents have also said that they are frustrated with not being able to enter in multiple complaints at the same time, and that the page is generally not user-friendly.
The choppers passing over residential areas in north Queens are largely used by tourists from out of town and wealthy patrons chartering speedy transportation to the Hamptons. A study published by Bloomberg News shows that helicopter trips have significantly gone up in East Hampton Airport in 2014. Thanks to the increasing popularity of cellphone applications which allow chartered flights to be summoned almost instantaneously, this number is not likely to go down any time soon.
We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola says that he and his neighbors have noticed the increase in air traffic and the resulting noise, noting that sometimes he has even seen two separate aircrafts passing overhead at the same time.
“What happens is, Queens has been all of a sudden assaulted by these helicopters and small planes flying overhead,” said Centola, “and it’s progressively gotten worse.”