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Group wants FAA to revisit College Point transfer station

Opponents of a revamped garbage transfer station in College Point hope recent developments in the aviation world will bring attention to what they say is a hazard to planes landing at and leaving from LaGuardia Airport.
TimesLedger Newspapers

A Queens advocacy group hopes that developments surrounding the aviation industry and LaGuardia Airport will draw renewed attention to what it said are the dangers of a planned garbage facility in College Point.

The aviation advocacy group Friends of LaGuardia Airport said the new blood at the top of the Federal Aviation Administration could mean a fresh look at the proposed North Shore Marine Transfer Station in College Point and its effects on the airport.

Earlier this month, Randy Babbit, head of the FAA, resigned after he was arrested and charged with drunk driving. His second-in-command, Michael Huerta, took the helm, which the group said could bode well for their cause.

“What I hope will happen is that the FAA will look at this with a new set of eyes,” said Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia Airport.

Paskar maintains that the station — where trash from the borough will be collected and then floated out on a barge before being transferred again to a train — is a hazard and money-draining measure for LaGuardia Airport. The station lies directly in the flight path of one of the runways at the airport and sits less than a half mile away.

If the station is built, Paskar is worried that birds will be attracted to the garbage and present a risk for planes departing and landing.

In January 2009, Canada geese were blamed for bringing down US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in what was dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson,” since all 155 passengers lived.

But the city has long maintained that the facility will not increase the bird population.

Nevertheless, Paskar hopes the issue will be re-examined now.

U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and Joseph Crowley (D-Woodside) had sent a letter to the FAA in August urging the administration to take a second look at bird strikes and the fact that the College Point facility was given the go-ahead.

But in a Nov. 18 response, Babbit reiterated that the FAA already recommended some modifications to the station, though beyond that could not comment on the situation, since the transfer station is the subject of a lawsuit, which was filed by Paskar’s group.

Ackerman conceded that Babbit might not have been able to comment, but he took issue with the former FAA head’s position that the facility lies a safe distance from the runway.

Ackerman, along with Paskar, said that Delta Airlines’ announcement Friday of its plans for exactly how it will increase service at LaGuardia.

The airline said it will be adding an additional 100 new flights and 29 new destinations, according to Delta.

In addition, the group is planning a $100 million addition to its terminal at LaGuardia, all of which could increase plane traffic at the airport, according to Paskar.

“It certainly has an impact on the Delta expansion,” he said.

Over the summer, the group issued a report about the lack of a Low-Visibility Precision Instrument Approach, which is used to guide planes down to the tarmac in inclement weather or fog, on Runway 31.

Since planes cannot use that runway when visibility is low, it costs the facility time and money, which could be exacerbated by the Delta expansion, Paskar said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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