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    An Accident Waiting To Happen

    (Sept. 10, 2003) -- Large commercial jets roared over homeowners' rooftops in much of the 5th and 7th districts on Sept. 9, diverted onto runway 25R/7L, roughly 60% the length of the Airport's main runway, after a large pothole appeared in runway 30/12.

    The shorter runway means 25R/7L approaches and takeoffs come closer to homes. Takeoffs and landings are when accidents are most likely to happen. In our opinion, use of Runway 25R/7L by large commercial jets is an accident waiting to happen.

    Silence from homeowners will invite more of this. We urge LB homeowners who were put in this position on Sept. 9 to express their opposition to use of 25R/7L for large commercial jets except in the most pressing emergency circumstances. Click on to send a noise complaint and object to the use of 25R/7L.

    Yes, the FAA is technically responsible for ordering use of 25R/7L when 30/12 was unavailable...but don't be fooled. Those planes, that noise, those risks are the result of an infamous May 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting seeking two week delay) that concealed from the public the real reason for changing the Airport's flight allocation rules, effectively inviting JetBlue to fill all the then-vacant flight slots.

    That vote recklessly and needlessly tripled LB Airport flights. Those flights over the 5th and 7th districts couldn't have happened without that Council vote.

    A year later, in May 2002 Councilmembers Kell, Carroll, Webb and Colonna agendized an item to seek a report on the real world effects of LB Airport operations on residents. It passed 9-0. Over a year later, the public has yet to hear that report.

    Meanwhile, since the Council's May 2001 vote LB Airport large commercial flights have nearly tripled. Annual passengers have nearly quintupled. Have sales taxes tripled or quintupled? Have hotel bed tax receipts tripled or quintupled?

    We're sure the Airport is lucrative for some corporate and special interests. We don't blame them for advocating their interests, but we do blame elected officials who put those interests ahead of the public interest. If tripling flights and quintupling passengers hasn't brought prosperity, further increasing Airport activity won't bring prosperity either.

    But it could help turn LB into Newark by the Sea. The next time an Airport apologist tries to belittle homeowners in this equation, remember that City Hall's own FY 04 budget shows the single biggest source of LB General Fund revenue -- which actually pays for police, fire, parks and libraries -- is property taxes. Compare that to LB Airport's landing fees...which pay for none of these. By federal law, none of LB Airport's landing fees can be spent outside the airport...and the Council is now using those fees to expand airport facilities.

    It's not homeowners who put their interests ahead of the city's best interests. It's others who are willing to turn LB into a corporate doormat even if it risks revenue and people in the process.

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