Mtg notes: Selectmen 02.08.13 (a) – Residents object to flight path

by Frank Schroth

The principal issue discussed at last night’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting was the proposed change to the use of Logan’s runway 33L which will increase flights over Milton and neighboring communities. A special citizens speak was set aside for the issue The first person to speak was State Senator Joyce.

Senator Joyce made two essential points: one was his severe disappointment with the FAA and Massport for failing to inform elected officials of a significant change that would affect the people they were elected to represent (“I was livid.”) and second, upon careful analysis and review it appears that the impact of the change will be “slight.” There will be an increase in flights but they will be at a higher altitude as the fly over (12,000 ft vs 10,000ft). Senator Joyce also expressed concerns about the short window of opportunity for the public to comment. The FAA has extended this. Joyce had convened a meeting at the state house that included representatives from Congressmen Capuano and Lynch’s office as well as Massport officials. The meeting “calmed my fears and concerns,” said Joyce.

Massport representatives attended the  meeting. Flavio Leo, Deputy Director Aviation Planning and Strategy, and Nancy Donohue, Manager of Government Affairs. Mr. Leo read prepared statements from both Massport and the FAA. Key was the decision by hte FAA to extend the public comment period to March 15 and a re-evaluation of the data. The data was at the heart of  the issue. Some residents who spoke questioned the accuracy and completeness of the data.

The FAA has reported, as Joyce stated, the flights are increased but at a higher altitude hence the net effect of increased noise is minimal. Laurie Kennedy, daughter of Judy Kennedy the volunteer Milton liaison with the FAA who abruptly resigned prior to this meeting as reported in the Milton Times, gave a presentation and questioned why there were no dots indicating the increase in traffic. Mr. Leo explained that the dots (she was referring to illustration 1-4 of the FAA report) reflected noise and since the increase traffic did not result in increased noise there were no additional dots. Some of the public did not trust the data.

Cindy Christiansen, a Milton resident and statistician, reviewed the data. She noted that her problem with the data was that the DNL (Day Night Average Sound Level) as measured in the FAA report was “an average of an average of an average.” She gave an analogy to illustrate why this is problematic. If your feet are in a fire and your head is in a refrigerator what is your average temperature? The measure does not account for the variation. She also identified an error in the report that indicated no one was living on Barberry Lane. There are people living there. If there is one error are there more?

Mr. Leo fielded as many questions as completely as he could. However, as he noted, Massport is responsible for everything at the airport except a moving aircraft. Once an aircraft is moving, where it goes, and how it gets there is the responsibility of the FAA. One resident to speak, Mr. Yovino, pointed out that it should be the FAA answering the questions. Selectman Keohane expressed disappointment that no one from the FAA was present. The other selectmen agreed. An invitation will be extended for a future meeting. At issue is the veracity of the data. Many residents who spoke complained about the existing conditions and the fear that more planes only means more noise.

Representative Timilty was also present. He did not speak but did identify his opposition to the FAA plan which can be found here.