The local public will have its say on proposed changes to Republic Airport next week, when the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) holds a highly anticipated information meeting on the East Farmingdale facility's Draft Master Plan Update. The meeting will be held at Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale on Thursday, Aug. 3.
The Draft Master Plan Update outlines several projects for the airport, including runway changes, taxiway widenings, and upgrading its aircraft design category from II to III. These, according to airport officials, are aimed at better accommodating the larger business jets that have become prevalent there in recent years, and meeting new Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements. But the plan has drawn criticism from local civic leaders, who have expressed concerns that the changes will bring a new flurry of jet activity to Republic, such as the 727 jet, which is included in design category III.
Members of the local community will have an opportunity to voice such concerns, and gather information about the DOT's plans, during Thursday's meeting. "The public is invited to attend the informational meeting," stated a DOT spokesperson. "This meeting will cover the first three chapters of the draft document, including: Chapter 1 - Inventory, Chapter 2 - Forecast of Aviation Activity, and Chapter 3 - Requirements, Analysis and Concept Development."
Prior to the scheduling of this meeting, the DOT had set Dec. 9, 1999 as the date for the public meeting. The state agency, which has operated the airport since the early 1980s, ultimately postponed it until further notice, citing a need to give community members more time to review the draft master plan update at local libraries. Now, as the meeting approaches, local activists are gearing up.
In recent weeks, one such activist group, the Joint Council of Civic Associations of the Massapequas, has been trying to mobilize opposition to the proposed changes by encouraging turnout at the upcoming meeting.
"Existing built-in constraints such as narrow runway/taxiway separations, etc., have helped to control the use of Republic," stated a flier from the organization publicizing the meeting," adding, "If these infrastructure constraints are eliminated we would be forced to rely on the written protection of legislation, resolutions, and/or rules and regulations that can be removed through litigation or future decisions."
The flier continued, "We all have a responsibility to help preserve our suburban quality of life for ourselves and future generations. Increased noise, air pollution and safety concerns would harm our way of life and could lead to reduced property values. Please attend the Aug. 3 meeting to hear about the draft plan and to voice your objections to the irrevocable changes being considered."
The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Howitt School, which is located at 50 Van Cott Avenue, Farmingdale. Copies of the draft master plan update are available for public review at several local libraries, including the Farmingdale Public Library and Bar Harbour branch of the Massapequa Public Library.