2011-09-30 / Top Stories

CB14 Says No To JFK Runway Expansion

By Nicholas Briano


This option would add two runways at the eastern end of the airport, both of them running deep into the bay. The new runways would impact the Bayswater community. This option would add two runways at the eastern end of the airport, both of them running deep into the bay. The new runways would impact the Bayswater community. Community Board 14 has agreed to send a letter of opposition to the Port Authority of NY/NJ and the regional Plan Association in regard to their proposed plans for extending several runways farther into Jamaica Bay.

The plans were released earlier this year and were greeted by much opposition from local politicians and the Rockaway Task Force, not only because of the environmental concern but also the fact that one of the runways would be extended no more than the length of a football field away from the outer edges of the Bayswater community.

Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers member Dan Mundy Jr. made an informational presentation to the board at its recent monthly meeting to outline the poten- tial environmental dangers of extending the runways farther into the bay.

The initial proposal stated that the section of the bay known as Grassy Bay contains a deep trench dug during the construction of the airport in the 1950s. The plan says that the trench has had negative effects on the bay and filling with a new runway may solve that problem. Federal law, however, designed to protect the bay and its surrounding park area, specifically prohibits the airport from extending its runways into the bay. Therefore, the U.S. Congress would have to amend the law to allow construction.

The Eco-watchers have stood their position since the release of the study, stating that the plan to fill Grassy Bay would destroy nearly 400 acres of wetlands that the group has advocated in defense of for many years. They believe the wide variety of wildlife in and around Jamaica Bay would be seriously impacted under the proposals.

The study offers four options that would either expand the runways or create parallel runways to the existing ones in an effort to accommodate more aircraft. Three of the four options would require filling in portions of Jamaica Bay, a part of the federally protected Gateway National Recreation Area. Costs for the JFK Airport expansion could range from $1 billion to $3.5 billion, according to the proposals.

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