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Meeting Tuesday evening March 10, 2009

Jean Jacques, Pleasantville NY


Purpose:  To discuss with new County Board Legislator, John Nonna, citizens’ and public groups’ concerns about Westchester County Airport  including: monitoring airport activity and environmental impact, quality of life and safety and social justice issues for regional residents continued advocacy for prohibition of the following: increased use, alterations and expansion of the airport.


Attendees: Tania Vernon, Sierra Club representative and this meeting’s convener and facilitator; Rye Brook resident

John Nonna, County Legislator representing Pleasantville and North Castle,

Heather Wolf, and

   Pound Ridge resident

Michael Larkin, member, Airport Advisory Committee, Rye Brook resident 

the Schultzes, original proponents of airport restrictions as previous representatives of the Sierra Club; Silver Lake residents

Margot Dilmaghani, Wespac representative, Purchase resident


unable to attend: Valerie Frances, Bronx River Alliance representative


Definition of “Airport Expansion”  may not be firm. Can regard limits on hangers, gates, flights, footprints, passenger numbers.


On of the present issues: a proposal to build a parking lot with a shuttle service to  the airport.  Location on King Street in North Castle,  within John Nonna’s district. 


Background provided by Schultzes:  Built in 1942, the EPA itself wrote that given the location  the Airport would not be built today.  After years of work and study,  the Schultzes and other residents believe this Airport should be exempt from FAA rules. It should attain “Special Status.” Apart from the density of population, no other airport in the country has this proximity to a major drinking water supply of our magnitude. The water supply serves 9 million people: 90% of NYC and 85% of Westchester.


Ours is the largest private airport in the county.  It is 50% corporate, 25% commercial and 25% general aviation.  A major concern is the lack of jurisdiction regarding corporate use of the airport. 


John Nonna:  Alterations in old hanger space such as JP Morgan’s proposed green building renovation must fit in existing space.  That should be ok.  He said renovation does not have to be a negative. Original de-icing plan was abandoned.  Vehicles are all electric.


Michael Larkin:  If airport facilities are improved in any way, there will be more flights.  Don’t make the airport nicer, including lobbies and facilities in existing buildings. It only attracts more pilots and passengers.  He, and others at the meeting, do not wish to see any further renovations.



Heather Wolf – comes from a family of pilots.  Understands planes, airports, rulings.  159 countries say aviation is the most polluting industry in the world.  In the US, the aviation industry utilizes loop holes to get by standards.  For one, expansion is not regulated. 


Background:  During the Reagan years part of the deregulation of the industry changed the FAA mission from “safety” to “safety and efficiency.”    


Her organization is suing the FAA on the EIS as it was not based on real data.  They outsourced it to a questionable company,  and there is no raw data.  The group agreed with her that the County should join the law suit going before the Appellate Court this May regarding the FAA’s proposed Airspace Redesign.  Air traffic controllers say there are distinct safety issues in this proposed Redesign.




Two issues raised at meeting in Purchase w/Martin Rogowsky, County Legislator Jan. 2009.


Westchester County Legislators approve all leases (including corporate) for the airport.  We are asking that citizens have an opportunity to review leases before decisions are made.


We ask for general transparency and improved communications regarding Legislator’s airport activity.


Residents attending the meeting felt concern that Martin Rogowsky, who seems to be the point person for the Board of Legislators on airport issues, expressed that he went from a “no expansion” stance in the 90’s to a more modified position today.  He says people like having the convenience of aircraft and destinations provided by Jet Blue.   That was definitely not the sentiment of the those present at the Purchase gathering.  We doubt that is the general sentiment of Westchester residents. 


Pursue Water quality analysis.  There has never been ground water monitoring by hydro geologists. Avoid filtration.  Study of how water quality is impacted by aviation emissions.  Do samples from Rye Lake.


Join the lawsuit against the FAA regarding Airspace Redesign as mentioned.


Attend March 19th Town Board meeting in North Castle.


Examine the possibility of regulation of corporate’s 50% airport area.  They should not be exempt from regulations, policies and standards.  We feel the new administration in Washington will be more agreeable to changes.


We asked  John Nonna to inform Martin Rogowsky about the information conveyed at our meeting.


 Heather Wolf offered to meet w/Legislator’s Energy Environment Committee well before the May 11th Appellate date in Washington. 


Bird issues – they are attracted to the water next to the airport.  Birds are the #2 reason for aviation accidents.  Presently, there is no effective bird mitigation.


Margot expressed keen interest in putting action behind the words.  We took time to list what to do.  All agreed that we want to move toward transparency, accountability, communication and results.  We were heartened that County Legislator John Nonna is himself keen on “no Airport Expansion.”


Overall, the meeting was carefully facilitated by Heather Vernon, who is a professional counselor and facilitator.  Everyone had adequate time to speak and new connections were made for future assistance, discussions and action. 


Summary by Margot Dilmaghani


I do not need to be on the email list generated at this meeting. Rather, I wish to be notified when airport concerns arise that should be conveyed to Wespac.  I’ve asked Tania to inform me.


Further Note

When I asked County Legislator, John M. Nonna, his party affiliation, he said Democrat in a heavily Republican district (#3)  I asked him how he won the vote and he said by communicating, listening, putting opposing groups together at the same table and discussing their issues.