2001-07-14 / Front Page

Doppler Approved By Appeals Court, Weiner Vows Bid To Fight Decision

Doppler Approved By Appeals Court,
Weiner Vows Bid To Fight Decision

By Howard Schwach

By a vote of 2-1, a Brooklyn Federal Circuit Court of Appeals voted on Tuesday to uphold the construction of Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, directly across the bay from the Western end of Rockaway. Floyd Bennett Field is a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area controlled by the National Park Service.

A number of local and Brooklyn-based groups have been fighting the weather radar on the grounds that should not be sited in a federal park that is dedicated to recreational uses.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), the agency that built the 130-foot tower that houses the TDWR, maintains that the radar is necessary to safeguard aircraft landing at both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports from the deadly effects of windshear. The radar is capable of reading the change in wind direction and velocity and reporting that change to air traffic controllers and pilots.

The FAA also maintains that the TDWR is sited in a portion of the park that previously housed the Coast Guard search and rescue facility and now houses the NYPD aviation unit and that this area is specifically not a part of the recreation area.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who organized the lawsuit, has vowed to fight the recent decision allowing the Doppler radar.

He plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

"For millions of New Yorkers, Gateway is their only national park," Weiner says. "This case is about Gateway’s visitors and about protecting the sanctity of our national parks. The Court of Appeals decision sets a sad and dangerous precedent for other encroachments on federally-protected parkland. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will hear our appeal."

The Supreme Court, however, has the option of hearing the case or not. According to a local expert, the court takes only those cases that have a "significant constitutional question" involved and this case might not fit that criteria.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Cardamone argued that the entire park is a recreation area that should be protected against "air facilities" as per the Gateway Act that ceded the parkland to the Federal Government.

An FAA spokesperson says that the TDWR system will soon be operational.

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