Democratic candidate for the 39th Assembly District Catalina Cruz unveiled a new plan on Monday in Jackson Heights to offset airplane noise pollution in the neighborhoods.
Called the “Airport Impact Fund,” the idea would add a dollar tax on each airfare ticket purchased at LaGuardia Airport. This would lead to a possible $30 million that residents would redistribute among themselves on projects such as sound proofing schools or improving parks.
“Residents tell me everyday about the negative impact that the airport has had on their lives whether it’s pollution, airplane noise, or traffic and congestion that results from folks going to the airport,” she said.
Cruz, who is challenging State Assemblymember Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona), explained in front of a USPS post office that the borough received several tourists from around the world. This led to the usual noise from airplanes in the district’s skies.
If elected later this year, Cruz would introduce the plan in the assembly to address a concern from residents. In fact, a 2016 report found plane traffic in Jackson Heights increased by 80 percent in about a decade.
Cruz added that several people, including community board members and local officials, would work together on this initiative should it be created. She compared it to the well-known participatory budgeting process.
“This would be funded entirely to benefit the community,” Cruz said.
Community members present at the press conference favored the proposal as well. Shekar Krishnan, co-chair of Friends of Diversity Plaza, explained that as a father he woke up in the middle of the night because of the sounds from airplanes flying nearby.
“For far too long our communities have had to deal with the incessant noise, the immense noise from an environmental standpoint, traffic standpoint, and a neighborhood standpoint,” he said.
Tammy Rose, an educator and local resident for 27 years, highlighted how students at some early education centers would wake up during nap time because of airplane noise. Studies have found health effects such as increased blood pressure because of the noise from airplanes.
“I support this idea because it will rebalance the relationship between the airports and the community,” She said.
Rhoda Dunn, a Jackson Heights resident, noted that neighborhoods do not receive compensation when accommodating the effects from tourism.
“We’re the ones who have to pay the consequences in terms of congestion and pollution,” she said.
The Democratic primary is on Thursday, September 13.