2002-06-01 / Community

Smith Sponsors Bill To Benefit Airport Zone

Smith Sponsors Bill To Benefit Airport Zone

If State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has his way, property owners in Rockaway and Broad Channel will benefit from a program designed to provide locals a portion of an estimated $10 million statewide to enhance their communities.

The bill, S5137, sponsored by Sen. Smith, establishes a fund to benefit neighborhoods surrounding a large volume airport, such as John F. Kennedy International Airport.

These funds will come in the form of property tax abatements for local property owners, by funding public works projects to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the communities, and by providing educational and training programs to benefit members of the communities located within the targeted areas.

The provisions of the bill define an "Airport Zone" to mean the appropriate area surrounding an airport serving at least 1.5 million passengers per year. The main provision of this bill provides for a fund of which 35 percent of the monies will be distributed to primary targeted zones, and another 35 percent distributed to secondary targeted zones.

A "primary targeted zone" encompasses an area within 10-mile radius of an airport, and a "secondary targeted zone" as within more than 10 but not less than 25 miles of an airport.

Twenty-five percent of the funds will be used to subsidize auxiliary organizations. An "auxiliary organization" refers to police and fire departments, ambulance services, and any other organization used primarily as a service for public benefit in targeted zones.

Five percent of the funds will be transferred to a special "airport catastrophe fund," which will be for victim compensation and rehabilitation of areas affected by an airport disaster.

This bill amends the environmental conservation law, the state finance law and the tax law in relation to the establishment of an "Airport Community Redevelopment Enterprise Program (ACRE)".

The environmental conservation law is amended by adding a new article 48, which notes, "The legislature finds that air travel, particularly to and from large airports, imposes cost on residents and businesses in surrounding areas. Air travel inherently creates pollution, noise, and traffic congestion. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to help alleviate the inherent problems by creating the airport community redevelopment enterprise (ACRE) program. This program is designed to improve neighborhoods that serve large volume airports and that bear the problems created by the airports."

Senator Smith introduced the bill and committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation, along with Sens. Brown, Mendez, Oppenheimer, Sampson, Santiago, Stachowski and Stavisky. The bill takes effect on the sixtieth day after it is passed into law by the state legislature.

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