Addressing Community Airport Noise

Airplane noise (and pollution) has become a major issue in New Castle over the past three years. Little has been done in that time to mitigate the problem; it has gotten worse. Team New Castle candidates have been fully engaged on this issue. It is an excellent example of their hands-on approach that is focused on impact and results.

In a September 27th The Journal News article, the main story (above & below the fold) was “Westchester airport noise complaints surge thanks to device that tallies frustration.” It reports on Jim Smith’s efforts to bring an easier way for residents to file noise complaints. Jim worked with the founder of a device called Airnoise.io to automate the process; the goal, to get more robust complaint data, an essential component of any mitigation effort. We are confident mitigation is possible and that Westchester County Airport can co-exist as a good neighbor.

From the article: “I know many people that got so frustrated trying to complain by phone or online, the old method,” Smith said. “…It wasn’t worth their time and aggravation to actually complain. They’re frustrated enough. People get woken up in the middle of the night and the last thing they want to do is log on their computer and lodge a complaint… We’re seeing a spike now [in complaints] because it’s a little easier…”

Team New Castle has been advocating for a multi-pronged approach to the problem. Jim highlighted efforts that have worked in other communities in a detailed briefing he sent to the Town Board on April 18th, in advance of their April 22nd meeting with County Executive George Latimer. Jim wrote to the Board, “Those communities that are successful in their mitigation efforts are those that have passionate citizens; rigorous supporting analyses; the commitment of the airport owner, in this case Westchester County; and the unwavering commitment of elected officials at all levels, including at the Congressional level. I hope we can work together to have this winning combination…” We believe we have a bigger problem, in part, because other communities- Greenwich and Pound Ridge in particular- took an aggressive approach over the last decade.

New Castle: Beyond the Outer Marker- Solving Airport Noise in Our Community

We must work with the County as airport owner, but we cannot simply rely on them to assess our specific problem and articulate change. In a March 29th letter to CE Latimer, Jim and Lauren called for action and called to work together, followed up by conversations and an email exchange where Jim recommended the County start by updating the work aviation consultant HMMH had done under former CE Andrew Spano. The County had started that process and on April 17th engaged HMMH to update their sound modeling; but the scope wasn’t adequate for communities outside of the immediate airport zone (The Phase 1 sound contour results are overdue, but the County indicates it will be ‘soon’.)

Jim was familiar with HMMH’s prior work because it was based on the same modeling data he obtained from the FAA. The data suggested the problem in many communities, including New Castle, would get worse in the future. One of our opponents said on Facebook, “nothing sells like fear.” We say, look at the data, and the realities of this problem.

Team New Castle strongly believes that nobody else will focus (and focus quickly) on the New Castle problem for us; analysis focused on the problem in communities including New Castle, North Castle and Mount Pleasant is essential. It must be conducted independently. Specific analysis and recommendations beyond the scope of the HMMH work must be formulated. We should build off of the data HMMH is using. Our analysis should form input to the County’s airport master plan process and to recommend actions the County and the FAA can take to mitigate; but we must be prepared with more than anecdotal evidence first. And we need expertise that understands what works and doesn’t work for the FAA. These recommendations are consistent with recommendations the New Castle Airport Advisory Board have been making for more than a year and we hope the Town board will take that advice. The more time that passes, the worse the problem gets and the harder it is to undo.