MacArthur Airport master plan forum draws residents' concerns

Fran Brechter, 65, points out her home on

Fran Brechter, 65, points out her home on a diagram during a public forum at Long Island MacArthur Airport. (Dec. 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Sarah Armaghan

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Residents expressed more concerns about airplane noise and expansion plans of the Long Island MacArthur Airport at a community forum Wednesday night dedicated to the future of the transportation hub.

John Allegato of Hauppauge peered at placards on the airport's possible growth and said he was particularly opposed to a proposed tram connecting the airport to the Ronkonkoma train station. "I think it's going to be too much of an expense," he said of the people mover.

This year, the Islip Town Board voted to apply for a grant to fund a feasibility study for the people mover, which would be connected to the Ronkonkoma Hub project at the Long Island Rail Road station.

Councilman John Cochrane, the town board's liaison to the airport, said the people mover is unlikely to happen, but every possible idea has to be accounted for in the master plan. "Everything has to be in the books," he said.

The master plan forum, attended by about 15 people, was the second held by the town since 2012, Cochrane said.

A federal grant covers 95 percent of the cost of the $923,066 update to the master plan, presented by Ohio-based airport and aviation planning firm Landrum & Brown. That firm will next present the forum's submitted comments to the town board, which Cochrane hopes will happen "sooner rather than later."

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Ultimately, the plan will be presented to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plan is updated every decade and looks at potential growth in the airport's airfield, terminal and parking area.

Cochrane said part of the forum's purpose was to help residents understand that "the technology of the engines and the technology of the planes have changed." Planes are less noisy and noise could be further reduced with improvements to runways, he said.

Fran Brechter, 65, a retired county health worker, and her neighbor Karen Simpson, 55, a homemaker, have been living on Cambridge Street on the east side of the airport for a combined 70 years.

Simpson said her car is often covered in black soot from the airplane exhaust pollution, and Brechter complained she can't leave her windows open during the summertime because of the noise.

"It seems like they don't even know what they're doing," Brechter said while looking at dozens of plans for the airport that hung in the terminal. "They said they'll listen to us, but who knows? We just want to be able to live here and enjoy it." Another attendee suggested a meditation and prayer room for airport travelers and employees. "They have the Christmas tree and menorah here, but what about the rest of the year?" said the Rev. Kathleen Kufs, a modern interfaith pastor from Huntington.

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