AirportNonnaJenkinsLatimerMcDonaldAugust 13, 2018 – Earlier this year, County Executive Latimer announced several actions to move forward with planning the future of Westchester County Airport. Less than 3 months later, and after listening to members of the public who are most impacted, Latimer announced updates and significant action steps which his Administration has taken regarding:

  • Noise

  • Air Quality

  • Water Quality

  • Master Plan / Supplement

Latimer said: “Back in May, we announced a series of public meetings, where we heard from everyone who wished to speak, and each had a chance to talk about the challenges facing the airport. This is a continuation of that dialogue which has begun already.”

Regarding airport operations, by no small margin, the largest numbers of concerns relayed revolved around noise. In response, the Latimer Administration has developed both immediate and longer terms actions to reduce noise and to better respond to noise complaints. These actions include:

  • Portable Monitors – the Administration has ordered 10 portable noise monitors which will be ready to be placed in key locations by August 31. Those locations will include areas that are the source of a large portion of the complaints, but where there is currently insufficient coverage by fixed noise monitors. They will also be placed in locations that will enable the Administration to check the accuracy and validate the data from current fixed monitors. 

  • Upgrade Fixed Monitors – the current fixed noise monitoring system includes some monitors that are more than 20 years old, using obsolete technology. In response, the Administration will be hiring a consultant to assess the number, locations, and the best state of the art technology for the best way to replace our older fixed monitors with newer state of the art equipment.

  • Complaint Handling – The Administration is in the process of automating the complaint response system. The new system will provide quicker responses and a much more significant level of detail. It will streamline the process of filing a complaint, and provide greater public access to noise complaint information and trends. The Administration will have this system up and running by September, including specific complaint handling protocols for response timelines and information. 

Director of Operations Joan McDonald said: “These new portable noise monitors will be in place by August 31 and will be located in places where the sources have the largest numbers of complaints and where there is currently insufficient coverage by noise monitors. They will also be placed in locations that will allow us to check the data from the current fixed noise monitors. Once we have sufficient data from these new monitors we will be better prepared to move forward and address longer term actions.”

Further comments heard regarding the airport were focused on air quality. In 2007, the airport completed an “Air Emissions Inventory” which included greenhouse gases and 8 additional air pollutants.  The purpose of the inventory was to establish a snapshot of the airport's emissions and provide a basis to identify opportunities to reduce emissions. Since then, the airport has taken several actions to reduce emissions. These actions include:

  • Transitioning to electric ground support and service vehicles

  • Electric jet bridges

  • New boilers

  • Newer more efficient planes

  • Other fuel source changes

The Administration is now starting a current inventory of air emissions and greenhouse gasses, creating an air dispersion model, and setting up an emissions monitoring system. The results of the new monitoring system and inventory are expected to take approximately 4 months to receive back. In a continuation of the Administration’s commitment to transparency, the results will be shared with the public along with possible remediation options.

Input on the future of Westchester County Airport also included much discussion of water quality. The airport water quality testing program, which ended under the previous Administration, has been resumed. The Administration has located 49 of the monitoring wells, and will begin water sampling by August 31, with preliminary test results expected by the end of September.

County Attorney John Nonna said: “The County has been addressing various water and soil environmental issues of many years at the airport. The most recent issues arose relatively recently. Based upon that, we are in communication with the Department of Environmental Conservation in order to address any needed remedial measures.”

Lastly, Latimer provided an update on the status of the Airport Master Plan. The Airport Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan, along with transcripts of the public hearings and written public comments, were submitted to the FAA by their July 6 deadline. The documents were submitted with a cover letter outlining specific concerns with the prior administration’s master plan.

Issues including:

  • Insufficient public involvement

  • Lack of a strategic vision

  • Demand forecasts that did not include the Terminal Use Regulations

  • Insufficient environmental reviews

In that letter, the Administration informed the FAA of the plan to immediately begin developing a supplement to the master plan that would include a more robust visioning process and a more thorough assessment of environmental issues and community benefits.  It is our plan to issue a Request-for-proposal (RFP) to bring a new consultant on board in September.

Public involvement is crucial at every step of the way forward, and the Latimer Administration received valuable public comments during and after all of the public hearings. Taking into account input from area residents, airport passengers, pilots, tenants, employees, and Airport Advisory Board members, the Administration is committed to working in an open, transparent manner.