2012-08-03 / Letters

Friends Of LaGuardia Airport

Dear Editor,

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is taking notice of a serious problem in the New York City area. The threat of bird strikes against airplanes is very real and growing because bird populations around our airports are on the rise. The senator recently paved the way to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cull Canada Geese near JFK Airport.

This move has drawn a public outcry from animal rights groups across the country. Sen. Gillibrand has taken a first step in addressing this major public safety issue, but there is a way to reduce bird strikes in our area without culling geese.

Right now, the City of New York is constructing a major garbage transfer station in College Point just 2,206 feet from the end of Runway 13/31 at La- Guardia Airport.

The airport, which already has some of the highest number of bird strike incidents in the country, is about to become a less safe place. Bird strikes are sure to skyrocket once the city opens the North Shore Marine Transfer Station, which will process 3,500 tons of trash a day. The trash will then be taken on a barge, coming even closer to the runway.

The danger is so pressing that Community Board 4 unanimously voted last month to oppose the transfer station because it is a danger to air travelers and Queens families on the ground. Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who famously saved 155 lives in the Miracle on the Hudson, also opposes the facility and lent his voice to an ongoing radio campaign to stop the transfer station on safety grounds. Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall – the country’s foremost accident investigator – is also strongly opposed to the facility.

New York has the most congested airspace in the country. With numerous airports – including LaGuardia, JFK, Newark, Teterboro, Westchester, Stewart, MacArthur and others – it’s critical that we have an overarching strategy to address bird strikes and not deal with the problem in a piecemeal fashion.

Leading bird strike experts agree that culling geese is nothing more than a band aid approach to solving a very complicated problem. This is a major public safety issue that demands a comprehensive solution that protects the airways above New York City. The consensus among bird experts is that a critical component to preventing bird strikes is stopping the construction of the garbage station near LaGuardia Airport.

Congressmen Joe Crowley and Gary Ackerman have been strong and outspoken opponents of the facility. Assemblywoman Grace Meng and State Senator Toby Stavisky have also been fighting diligently in Albany to stop the misguided transfer station project. Sen. Gillibrand has acknowledged that bird strikes are a serious hazard to aviation. While I am both grateful and thankful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue, I call on her to join her constituents, her colleagues in Congress, the State Legislature, Community Boards, Chamber of Commerce, the aviation community and bird strike experts in taking strong and immediate action to stop the building of the North Shore Marine Transfer Station.

KEN PASKAR

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