1999-09-25 / Front Page

Doppler Done Deal

"See you in court" was the response Congressman Anthony Weiner made when he was alerted to the decision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to place the Doppler radar tower in Floyd Bennett Field. Doppler, a 37-foot ball atop an 82 foot tower, is radar equipment for detecting deadly wind shear. It will be used by Kennedy International Airport and will partially cover La Guardia.

After months of silence regarding the controversy of the placement of the Doppler radar tower, the White House proposed a "compromise" in the dispute between the National Parks Service and the FAA. Under the proposal, the Parks Service could remove the radar tower after 20 years and the FAA would pay for minor improvements to the park.

Congressman Weiner, who has led the opposition to construction of the FAA tower in Gateway National Recreation Area, called the proposed compromise "an insult to our communities."

Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, also known as TDWR, was formally proposed by the FAA for Floyd Bennett Field in March. The proposal was met with immediate opposition from both Rockaway and Brooklyn residents, environmental groups and the Department of Interior. Not only were there claims that the radar energy emissions would be a health risk, but both residents and officials of the Interior Department believed that a national park was not the site for a radar tower.

During an Earth Day rally against the Doppler on April 24, Weiner commented that "The FAA is dead wrong if it thinks it can turn our national park into a construction site. You wouldn’t put a Doppler in Yosemite and you’re not going to do it in Gateway."

The White House Council on Environmental Quality mediated the dispute between the Department of Interior and the FAA. "The White House has had the ability and the authority to stop this wrongheaded construction proposal from the start," Weiner said. "The Clinton/Gore administration failed us utterly in this respect. This is a major scar on the environmental record of this president and vice president."

A coalition of local activists, environmentalist, and educators have filed a lawsuit in the federal court of appeals challenging the FAA’s plan to install Doppler in Gateway. The lawsuit will center on Gateway National Park’s enabling legislation, which prohibits the further development of Gateway without the express approval of the Department of Interior. The group, organized by Weiner, is represented by Professor Minna Kotkin of Brooklyn Law School. An immediate injunction against construction of the Doppler may be filed to stop construction of the tower.

A spokesperson from Senator Charles Schumer’s office said, "We feel betrayed by the Department of Interior." Schumer, who represented parts of Rockaway and Brooklyn when he was in congress, said he is "supportive of the lawsuit and its goals."

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