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Airport Impact Fund

The fund will directly benefit local residents to offset the negative impact of LaGuardia Airport

Catalina Cruz has developed an innovative plan to create an “Airport Impact Fund” (AIF) to offset the negative impact LaGuardia Airport has on its surrounding communities. When elected, Cruz will introduce legislation to develop the fund to directly benefit local residents and provide resources for mitigation measures in the areas surrounding the airport. Cruz made the announcement at a press conference in Jackson Heights, which consistently ranks among the top neighborhoods to file airplane noise complaints in the city.

“Residents tell me everyday that airplane noise, traffic congestion, and pollution are on the rise in Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights,” said Catalina Cruz, Democrat for State Assembly. “I am running for the State Assembly to be an advocate for our community on the issues that most impact the lives of our children, seniors, and families. Communities that most experience the impact from airport operations should also experience more benefits. With the Airport Impact Fund, we have an opportunity to make this possible.”

Cruz’s proposal would establish a recapture mechanism funded by airlines that sell airfares to-and-from LaGuardia Airport. Funded at a rate of $1 per airfare sold, the over $29 million in annual funding for the AIF would help cover much needed park, playground, and school upgrades that are currently not being covered by existing State and Municipal budget proposals. Monies could even be used to create and fund much-needed mitigation strategies like potentially soundproofing schools or places of worship, providing hearing evaluations to community residents, and planting trees to improve air quality.

On a daily basis, Queens residents have to endure the ill-effects of excessive airplane noise, air pollution, and traffic congestion. Yet, as the construction for a new LaGuardia Airport continues, and plans for a new AirTrain proceed – at a cost that could reach $8 billion – few dollars are being spent for the direct benefit of local residents. Even the AirTrain proposal skips over connecting to the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue transit hub, one of the busiest in the city. It also does little to accommodate or improve an already overcrowded No. 7 line which will be utilized as a connection to the project.

Just as LaGuardia Airport is a vital component of the New York’s economy, annually accommodating more than 29.8 million travelers, 369,000 flights, and making room for 7,000 tons of cargo, the AIF would serve as a vital component for funding our communities’ needs.

Additionally, the AIF could help create and fund safer and more efficient transportation routes to work for LaGuardia’s nearly 12,000 employees, many of whom also live in the shadow of LaGuardia’s flight path. In working with Federal, State and Local officials to create an AIF, including a possible share of any new Passenger Facility Charge, Queens can finally stop being just a resource for New York and begin to have resources of its own.

photograph by David Rothenberg