Tag Archives: Friends of LaGuardia Airport

Court rules in favor of waste transfer station


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

They lost their bid to block the birds.

The Friends of LaGuardia Airport could not prevent a waste transfer facility, which will bring flocks of seagulls near the airport, from being built.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday, April 9 on jurisdictional grounds rather than on the merits of the case, said Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia.

“I’m concerned that [the] decision would have people believe that the court ruled on the merits and interpret that to mean that the transfer station is safe,” said Paskar.

The North Shore Marine Transfer station is under construction in College Point and is expected to be completed later this year. The waste transfer station is located approximately 2,206 feet away from one of the major runways at LaGuardia.

With the station expected to handle 3,500 tons of residential garbage daily, Paskar believes the station will become a “bird magnet” for seagulls looking for food, and will lead to an increase in the danger of gull strikes in the air.

Even with the court’s decision, Paskar is looking to follow other legal options, including filing a motion for re-consideration on the court.

“Friends of LaGuardia must continue its fight to protect the traveling public from the risks of bird strikes in and out of LaGuardia Airport and the greater NY Metro area because the FAA, Port Authority and the City of New York are clearly not,” said Paskar. “It’s a long shot. We’re asking the court to look at their own decision and be consistent.”

The FAA did not respond as of press time.

 

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Waste transfer station meets with opposition


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

College Point the city's solid waste  - 01

A local advocacy group is hoping the city trashes its plans for a waste transfer station near LaGuardia Airport – which it says attracts flying objects other than planes.

The members of Friends of LaGuardia Airport believe the North Shore Marine Transfer Station, which is currently under construction in College Point and expected to be completed in 2013, will increase the likelihood of midair collisions between airplanes and birds.

“The main issue is that it is a hazard to aviation because it is a bird magnet. January 15 is the anniversary of the miracle on the Hudson,” said group president Ken Paskar, referencing the emergency landing by US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger in the Hudson River after his plane was struck by a flock of birds. “I believe that these are miracles, and we can’t expect every single incident to be a miracle. If this station is built, I believe it is a question of when, and not if, there will be a bird strike.”

According to a report commissioned by Friends of LaGuardia, the station, which is roughly 100 feet high, would also make it impossible for the airport to implement a low visibility precision instrument approach procedure (IAP), which aids pilots during inclement weather landings. Economist David Berkey, who conducted the study, says LaGuardia currently reroutes planes away from its main runway in low-visibility weather, increasing the number of delayed and cancelled flights.

“If they build this transfer station, the airport cannot use IAP, and in inclement weather, they will continue to reroute planes from their main runway,” said Berkey, who claims he used highly reliable data from airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the study. “This is costing between $74 million and $183 million a year in cancellations and delays. Right now, because they don’t have IAP, they are also delaying half a million to a million people a year – and this will only get worse with the station.”

Due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Friends of LaGuardia, the FAA deferred comment to the United States Justice Department, which declined comment.

Julie Wood, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says the installation if IAP at LaGuardia was deemed impossible – regardless of the station’s construction – due to the “many technical and physical obstacles at the airport.” Bird collisions are also not considered a serious threat, according to Wood.

“Experts at the FAA have studied bird patterns thoroughly and believe that this transfer station will absolutely not increase the risk of bird strikes,” said the spokesperson. “Anyone who says otherwise is scaring people for no good reason. Building this transfer station will allow us to achieve the important goals of our waste management plan – making it cleaner and greener by taking trucks off the street.”

Despite the assurances of the FAA and due to concern for their constituents’ safety, Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Michael Simanowitz recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the construction of transfer stations near airports in New York City. Senator Toby Ann Stavisky plans to introduce the bill in the Senate as well, according to Meng.

“It is not fair to Queens to have the station placed so closely to the airport and so close to where people live,” said Meng. “People are scared of another accident like what happened with Captain Sullenberger.”

Beyond increased difficulties and dangers to aviation, Paskar believes the station will also create foul living conditions for College Point residents.

“A lot of the garbage in the borough will be brought to this station to be transported out of Queens,” he said. “So the people of Flushing and College Point will now have to bear the burden of approximately 3,000 tons of garbage a day from throughout Queens in their community. Hundreds of garbage trucks will be coming to this transfer station and destroying the neighborhood’s transportation infrastructure as well.”