The Republic Airport Commission held a meeting last week in the conference room at the airport. While not a public information meeting, it was open to local residents and some came in to voice their opinions about the commission's way of handling various situations.
Most residents in attendance expressed the fear that nothing had been done as of yet regarding the public information meeting held in early August, where over 800 local residents came to voice opposition regarding the Commission's Draft Master Plan. At that meeting, residents were particularly worried about the airport's plans to expand runways and upgrade aircraft design category from II to III that would accommodate planes with wider wingspans.
They also stated that the noise level of some of the aircraft flying close to their homes is beginning to be unbearable, especially from the planes which fly by during night hours. Residents said that some noise coming from the airport is certainly expected and tolerable, but overly and unreasonably loud noise is unnecessary, and they asked the commission to find a solution.
Republic Airport Commission Director Hugh Jones read two letters to meeting attendees that the Commission's Chairman, Frank Nocerino, had written to airport executives stating citizens' complaints. One letter dealt with the noise during curfew hours around the neighborhood. The letter, addressed to the airport's regional administrator, asked about what could be done to prevent planes from flying at such late hours.
Republic Airport is located in East Farmingdale, and residents from the surrounding communities of Farmingdale and North Massapequa for years have complained about noise from planes flying over their homes to the facility. They have been represented at numerous commission meetings by the Joint Council of Civic Associations of the Massapequas.
The other letter Nocerino wrote to airport executives addressed the issue of the intolerable noise residents were calling in to complain about. Nocerino said in the letter that residents understand that some noise is to be expected but that certain flyers appear to be making excessive noise for unnecessary reasons, such as prolonged circling before landing.
According to Nocerino, both of these letters were written soon after the August public information meeting. He said that both issues were immediately addressed and he intends to follow through on them. The commission has heard no response to either letter from airport regional administrator as of yet.
Commission members handed out a report package showing both the airport's operations in the past five months and the amount of complaints that they had received. While the number of operations taking place at the airport are significantly lower than they were last year, complaints have gone up in recent months. They increased to nearly half as many as there were last year in both June and August of this year.
The majority of the complaints came from noise heard around the landing area of the airport. Commissioners stated that there were two incidents in both June and August where there was a networking problem and aviators ran into some complications when trying to land. In both incidents, the airport received more complaints than usual and members claimed that they attempted to solve the problem immediately. The commission blamed the large number of complaints on these two occasions, saying that such difficulties occur infrequently.
Commission members continued the meeting by saying that it has always been their intent to keep noise levels down at the airport. To help manage noise, they have been handing out procedure manuals to pilots to help keep noise down around the community. These manuals have been distributed to jet operators who fly from both Republic and Millionaire, the airport's fixed base operator.
The commission also reported that they receive approximately 20 complaints from residents each time military aircraft comes into the airport. Members insisted that they don't know when the aircraft lands until they actually do, that they receive no prior notice. The commission said they had contacted the Navy on numerous occasions to ask the pilots to fly in a friendly manner, and also asked them to operate with making as little noise as possible by not flying so low.
Gerard Toner, chairman of Republic's technical advisory committee (TAC) suggested that the airport simply ask the navy pilots not to land on their runways. While it is not illegal for the aircraft to come into the airport without prior warning, Toner asked other members to look into asking the Navy planes to find other landing space for them to use.
While the airport commission said they are trying to take measures to help decrease the amount of noise coming from their grounds, residents at the meeting said that they continue to feel ignored. One resident reminded members that over 800 citizens attended the August meeting for a reason and that they obviously felt very passionately about what they had to say. Residents also guessed that more people would have been present at the August meeting if they had received more advanced notice that it was taking place and if the weather that hot day had not been so unbearable.
One resident said that she feels the public has not been taken into consideration, and that the commission continues to move on with their plans while disregarding what locals have to say. "We may have been heard, but we were not listened to," she said about the August meeting.
Agreeing with her argument, another resident told the commission that they "seem to be ignoring what the community says." He further commented that if the commission is claiming that this drafted master plan is an ongoing process, they should take the public's feelings into consideration now, and not when the plan is complete. He said that it would make more sense to pay attention to the concerns residents are expressing presently while the plan is still an ongoing process.
Another resident urged the commission to communicate better with the neighborhood. He said that the public is not aware of what's going on at the airport and that when they ask, their questions are quickly dismissed and often left unanswered. He further suggested that if the commission were to better communicate with the public, then there would be a better understanding as to what is going to take place at the airport and people would be more aware and less likely to get so riled up.