Frustration Comes out at Meetings: Point Shirley Residents Miffed at Massport

The following is a reprint from last week’s issue. Due to a production error the story was not printed in full.

Residents of Point Shirley and other area residents went to the Logan Center at Logan Airport on Monday night with the hopes of getting some answers as to why airplanes seem louder, why these planes fly throughout the night and what’s the status of the soundproofing program.

“We are an urban airport,” said Falvio Leo, director of Aviation Planning and Strategy at MassPort several times.

On Monday night, the Environmental and Health Subcommittee of the MassPort Community Advisory Committee (CAC) met with residents of Winthrop and those in “line of sight” communities such as Somerville, Watertown and Chelsea.

Members of the Winthrop Airport Hazards Committee attended the meeting, including Winthrop’s CAC representative Jerry Falbo who teleconferenced in from Florida. Also, there was Precincy 3 Councilor Nick LoConte and Councilor Phil Boncore.

“A flight pattern is not a noise pattern,” said Wig Zamore, chair of Massport CAC Environment and Health Committee.

The agenda for the meeting included an overview of the noise abatement, soundproofing and the regulatory context for soundproofing process including the application of the noise model and noise measurements.

Leo explained that they have had a soundproofing program since 1985, where windows, doors and air conditioning units have been installed. To date more than  $170 million dollars have been spent of the program. He said the money for the program comes from the FAA and not MassPort.

He also explained thoroughly how noise is measured by a Federal Aviation Administration model called AEDT. This model is the same no matter what airport you are near in the United States.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re here or in San Francisco the model is the same,” Leo said.

The model, he said, creates a noise contour which shows the decibel levels around the airport. The cut-off for the soundproofing program is 65 DBL if you are outdoors the level is 45 DBL indoors. An image of contour boundaries from the 1970s to 2016 shows the contour area shrinking meaning that there is less noise impact on certain communities near the airport.

There are 30 noise monitors at Logan, six sites in Winthrop.

“The FAA will only look at modeled information” Leo said. “They have to draw the line somewhere.”

A new contour map will be published this spring. Depending on how the contours flow, some homes in Winthrop may be eligible for soundproofing. The property owner will get a letter from Massport informing them of the soundproof program and how to go about getting into the program.

The fear is that the contour would have shrunk more and fewer homes would be eligible.

This added to the overall feeling of frustration of the 30-40 people who attended the meeting. Most every resident of Point Shirley got up and left the meeting.

There were endless stories of sleepless nights, homes that airplanes shake, windows that shake and even one tale of a straight A high school student who drives to the Target parking lot in Revere so he can sleep.

One option floated by Matthew Romero, the first executive director for the Massport Community Advisory Committee, was that town come up with its own funding for soundproofing.

Town Council President Ron Vecchia shook his head and questioned what he just heard.

“I will be requesting Congresswoman Kathryn Clarke to join Congressman Steven Lynch in supporting his bill to increase funding of the FAA for a soundproof program for communities impacted by Logan Airport,” Vecchia said.

Prior to working for Massport, Romero was employed for 12 years by the MWRA.

“Are you going to soundproof the homes you did 30 years ago,” said Boncore. The answer was they would study it.

Logan Airport is one of the oldest airports in the United States. Also being considered in the noise is flight patterns (an FAA choice), the control tower and the weather. The airport operates on six runways and four configurations. It gets complaints from the South Shore and communities all around the airport.

As for pointing the finger at Terminal E expansion, Leo said it has not started yet.

”It is an intolerable condition on Point Shirley, over 65 DBL is considered uninhabitable,” Falbo said.

“The FAA is looking at implications countrywide,” Leo said.

“The problem is the FAA isn’t here right now,” said resident Gail Miller.

Vecchia said the absence of the night curfew has been devastating in the last year.

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