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New York state courts struck a blow to opponents of a trash transfer station slated for the foot of a LaGuardia Airport runway, but critics of the plan vow the fight is far from over.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a case brought by Friends of LaGuardia Airport, a group opposed to the project, which sought to invalidate a 2010 letter from the Federal Aviation Administration to the city of New York indicating that the North Shore Marine Transfer Station is safe.
The station is designed to collect garbage from trucks that will troll the streets of the northern part of Queens and package the refuse into barges to be shipped away.
The station sits less than a half mile from the edge of one of LaGuardia’s runways and, according to Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia, will attract hungry birds that could pose a hazard to aviation.
“We are very disappointed in the court’s ruling,” he said. “But we are going to continue the fight.”
Paskar said the judges decided they did not have jurisdiction to rule on the FAA’s letter, but another panel of jurists in the same court came to the opposite conclusion last year involving a separate lawsuit.
“The courts already ruled on this. They are taking a completely different position and we are very confused,” he said. “We want a decision from the court on the merits.”
Paskar and his group have aligned itself with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, the “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot who successfully landed his plane in the Hudson River in 2009 when Canada geese struck the aircraft soon after it took off from LaGuardia, to spread the word on what they believe are the dangers of the facility.
But the city maintains the whole facility, which is replacing a similar building that already operated there, will be sealed, trapping all odors inside and that birds will not be the wiser.
“We feel the court reached the correct decision,” said city lawyer Elizabeth Natrella, who added that the transfer station is an integral part of the city’s waste management plan.
A spokesman for the mayor said the legal victory shows a trend.
“We’ve prevailed in eight separate lawsuits challenging various aspects of this critical project at the trial level,” said John McCarthy. “Including appeals, it’s now 11 times that a court has ruled against those who don’t want to bear their fair share of the load to dispose of the 11,000 tons of garbage that New Yorkers produce every day.”
But many elected officials have come out against the plan. Former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman was a vocal critic, as is his successor, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside).
“I remain opposed to this project and continue to have serious concerns over the increased threat of bird strikes to planes landing and taking off from LaGuardia,” she said in a statement. “We cannot afford to put the flying public and the neighborhoods surrounding the airport in danger. I strongly disagree with the court’s decision and will write to the city.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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