Tag Archives: Jamaica Bay

Fowl Strikes Cause Foul Feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.

While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

According to published reports, Sullenberger opposes the mayor’s plan to put a trash station near LaGuardia Airport — a decision that will inevitably bring more birds to the area.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.

OpEd: Public opposed to JFK runway expansion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILIP GOLDFEDER

As your assemblymember, it is my responsibility to ensure that the community’s concerns are heard. On no issue is that clearer than the Regional Plan Association’s suggested plan to the Port Authority to expand the runway at JFK International Airport into Jamaica Bay. Since the plan was first introduced in February 2011, I have listened to hundreds of residents tell me how this would destroy Jamaica Bay and hurt our community, and despite the steadfast public opposition, the idea remains on the table after over a year of deliberation.

The proposal originally devised by the Regional Plan Association calls for parts of the federally-protected Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to be filled-in to create a new runway at JFK Airport. The 400-acre parcel of wetlands and shoreline serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeast and is home to over 60 species of reptiles and fish.

An environmental study stated that any further man-made incursion would “diminish a national environment asset for future generations.” For that reason, federal law specifically prohibited any airport expansion in the protected zone in the 1972 wildlife refuge, park and recreation area designation by the National Parks System.

Protecting this wildlife refuge is only one aspect that has worried the community. Both the residents of my community and Jamaica Bay would be greatly impacted by the runway expansion as proposed by the RPA. The project would literally be built in the backyards of communities that rely heavily on the serene atmosphere that the neighborhood currently offers. Property values would undoubtedly be diminished and the potential negative impact to the local area and economy greatly outweighs any benefit a new runway would generate.

In 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger gave us a true story of American heroism when he made an emergency landing into the Hudson River after a rare bird strike caused an engine on his jet to fail. Unfortunately, I have seen reports from aviation consultants that show disrupting the Jamaica Bay wildlife area could raise the risk of further bird strikes at JFK Airport. I urge more research into how expansion would change the bird sanctuary, so that we can be sure it does not put lives in danger.

Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years. I understand the need for airport expansion, but I stand with the residents of Queens – this proposal simply has too many negative implications. There are a number of different, viable solutions at one of the four other airports in the metropolitan area managed by the Port Authority that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our families and the environment.

I recently sent a letter to Port Authority executives detailing my apprehensions with the proposed runway expansion at JFK and they have publicly stated they will take my concerns into consideration. Jamaica Bay is a tremendous natural resource that deserves protection. This is a good first step and I hope the Port Authority is finally convinced to drop this plan.

If you would like more information on the proposal to expand the runway, or to discuss this or any other important community issue, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 718-945-9550 or email me at goldfederp@assembly.state.ny.us.

 

Fresh air is on the way for Howard Beach residents


| mchan@queenscourier.com

SHELLBANK BASINw

Lots of sunshine — and clean air — is in the forecast for Howard Beach residents come summertime.

The $3.5 million project to install the Shellbank Basin Destratification Facility was recently completed, according to Carter Strickland, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The project is said to curb odors in the surrounding area and improve water quality and local ecology by installing an air compressor station along the shore of the basin — a tributary of Jamaica Bay. The compressor uses air bubbles to mix the water, agency officials said, which prevents the formation of separate temperature layering that often causes foul odors and the frequent death of fish.

“This is another bit of good news for New Yorkers who love Jamaica Bay,” Strickland said. “Living near the water is great, but not when it is so stagnant that it creates unwelcome odors.”

Construction on the facility began in September 2010. According to officials, it will go into operation in late spring, when the warmer weather kicks in and when the compressor is most needed.

“[This facility] is a step in the right direction environmentally,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am optimistic that the efforts of the DEP will improve the condition of the water in the basin, the quality of life for my constituents and the fish there and eliminate the odors that have plagued the area for years.”

DEP officials said the new facility features two compressors — one in operation and the other on standby. The compressors will pump air through the 3,800 feet of perforated tubing laid out along 2,000 feet of the basin floor.

“We look forward to our summers to come without the odors and dead fish that prevented us from fully enjoying our unique waterfront location when inversions occurred,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10.

 

Civic focuses on health, safety


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Corazzo

The Board of the Howard Beach Civic Association invited Dr. Richard Pinskor of Jamaica Hospital and Dr. Frans Verhagen of Sane Aviation for Everyone (SAFE), Inc. to address its meeting on January 31. The former mostly focused on the health effects of JFK Airport, while the latter urged the civic members to get involved in opposition to the proposed new Jamaica Bay runway.

Congressmember Bob Turner working to fix water woes


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Congressmember Bob Turner

Last week, Congressmember Bob Turner met with Colonel John Boule, district commander of the New York District Army Corps of Engineers, to discuss the Army Corps of Engineers’ projects in the 9th Congressional District.

Projects discussed included ecosystem restoration in Jamaica Bay, the Jamaica Bay Federal Channel (at Rockaway Inlet) Navigation project, the Storm Risk Reduction Project at Plumb Beach and a Reformulation Study on the Rockaway Peninsula.

“It was important for me to discuss these local projects with Colonel Boule, especially those relating to Plumb Beach and the Rockaways. My district has the most Army Corps activity of the 43 congressional districts Colonel Boule oversees,” said Turner. “I appreciate his taking the time to meet with me, and I assured him that my office will work closely with his, to do everything we can to see these projects through to completion.”

During the meeting, the congressmember and Boule also discussed how they can work together to secure the federal funding needed to complete the local projects.

“The Army Corps of Engineers looks forward to working with Congressmember Turner to address diverse water resources challenges – reducing flood risk to critical public infrastructure such as the Belt Parkway, restoring the aquatic ecosystems in Jamaica Bay and maintaining safe navigation,” said Boule.

Turner and his staff have met with several residents and organizations, including the Jamaica Bay Task Force and the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association.

“These projects have been in the planning phases for a number of years, and the communities affected by them are rightfully looking for actual work to begin to reduce the risk to our communities. I will do all I can to make this a reality,” said Turner.

The Army Corp. of Engineers has a multifaceted mission in navigation, aquatic ecosystem restoration and flood risk damage reduction.