Westchester County Airport
How can I get involved?
If you just have a minute, please sign this petition opposing privatization!
If you have a little more time, please consider joining us for a future action against airport privatization and expansion. FCWC is currently collaborating with a coalition of other local environmental organizations called "Citizens for a Responsible County Airport."
Previous actions have included a rally on July 17, 2017 opposing airport privatization and expansion (see our July 2017 events page for more information and a short video from the rally below):
Here are a few media pieces on the airport issue:
"Opponents rally against privatization of WC Airport" - News12 Westchester
"Privitization of Westchester Airport" - Profiles and Issues
"Gelfarb defection complicates Astorino airport deal" - by David McKay Wilson, Journal News
NEWS ON WESTCHESTER AIRPORT:
County Executive asserts immediate action items:
In response to the public dialogue over the past month on the County Airport, I am asking we immediately implement the following actions:
1) Full resumption of water quality testing
The prior water quality testing efforts should be resumed, with reports available for review by Airport management, County officials, Airport Advisory Board members, the press and public. As we analyze the results of the testing, please advise me of problems that need to be addressed, so we can decide on immediate action to correct whatever pollution may be found.
2) Establishment of an Air Quality Monitoring System.
We should implement, as soon as possible, an air quality monitoring system with devices to detect air quality placed in those locations deemed important. We can look at other airports, and the environmental community, for best practices, so that as with water quality, we are fully aware of levels of air pollutants that may exist.
3) Assessment and overhaul of noise monitoring system.
We have heard testimony that the current system of monitoring devices may be antiquated, and improperly placed to accurately register incidents of noise. That system should be reviewed and upgraded with new equipment. In addition, I would like to see us register peak noise incidents, and frequency of peak noise incidents, rather than just averages of noise, to better portray the level of offensive noise being experienced by residents.
4) Overhaul of noise complaint system.
Please ensure that a full review of our system for receiving, tracking and responding to noise complaints is completed, and all needed changes are made. Since this is an internal function, I'd like to see us ready with a revised program by November 1st - 120 days from today - that includes the suggestions from the many individuals who use the existing system and find it insufficient.
Separately, County Attorney John Nonna has outlined a plan to deal with the PFOA pollution from the Airport, and we should ensure that we are executing all aspects of the effort to remediate the pollution that exists, and monitor any additional sightings of those pollutants.
There are many other changes to be made at the Airport, but these five areas are wholly within our control and funds are available in Airport operations to ensure their completion. They would show a tangible willingness by our new County Administration to improve the current situation as it affects residents. This is not intended to be a complete response to the concerns raised - just Phase One of the necessary changes.
Westchester County Executive
March 18, 2016 - Conservation Café: Westchester County Airport Expansion: This Conservation Café included a discussion on the proposed changes to the airport passenger limitations, the history of the work that has gone into keeping the size of Westchester County Airport under control, and the concerns surrounding the environmental impacts of any changes to the current law. More info here.
July 17, 2017 - Rally to Oppose Airport Privatization and Expansion: Activists gathered outside the Board of Legislators building to oppose the potential privatization and expansion of the airport. More info here.
July 27, 2017 - Public Hearing on Draft Master Plan for the Westchester County Airport: Residents presented comments on the draft master plan; FCWC Board member Carolyn Cunningham presented on our behalf.
For a complete list of past events, please visit our event archive.
Over its 50 years, among the many environmental issues Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC) has educated about and advocated action for, none has loomed larger than Westchester County Airport's ongoing pollution and potential future impacts on our quality of life.
A legal agreement between the County and the airlines put controls on the expansion of commercial aviation at the airport in the form of 4 gates at the terminal, 4 flights per half hour, and 240 passengers per half hour (either leaving or coming). These controls on commercial flights have been in existence since the mid 1980s and were put into the county code in 2004.
Although Westchester County has benefited greatly from this control, it is now under threat because of a recent development: in 2015, County Executive Astorino proposed changes to the current commercial passenger limitations at the airport to the Board of Legislators (BOL). An attempt to change any one of the three controls is risky and dangerous. These controls are almost unique in the country and predate a federal law that does not permit local controls on access to airports anymore. The BOL must be very sure, with confirmation in writing, that FAA does not consider any attempt to change the passenger cap to be an invalidation of the entire control.
There are serious concerns associated with any change to the current terminal use regulation (TUR). One is the airport's proximity to the Kensico Reservoir, which provides drinking water for millions of people in NYC and Westchester. The County has invested much money to try to prevent the water pollution of the Reservoir from the fuel spills, and deicing fluids from operating airports. This location right next to a significant source of drinking water would not be permitted today.
Other concerns include many quality of life issues, including air and noise pollution, and the impacts on our property values. It is not hard to convince people that they would not like to live near LaGuardia or JFK, but it is harder to make Westchester residents understand that they must give up some convenience - and travel to the larger existing airports - or experience the impacts on our quality of life that come with living near a large airport.
FCWC believes residents should remind the County Executive and their legislators that any change to our control on the size of the airport needs assurances in writing that we are not giving up the controls. We also advocate for a thorough environmental review, more discussion from all parties as to whether the proposed change is necessary, and a review of what other less disruptive alternatives may be.
- Modified from our May 2016 E-News
FCWC Board Member Carolyn Cunningham presented FCWC's position on the Draft Master Plan for the Westchester County Airport at a public hearing on July 27, 2017. Watch a video of the statement below:
History and Benefits of Limitations at Westchester County AIrport
Here's a short 3-minute introduction to the issue by FCWC Board Member Carolyn Cunningham: