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Update April 2, 2016- Starting tomorrow, tourist flights will be banned on Sundays.
Update January 31, 2016- The city and its EDC have agreed to cut the number of noisy tourist helicopter flights in half, and ban them altogether on Sundays.
Anyone wishing to thank BatteryPark.TV for having a large part to play in this can post your comments below.
(Note: this compromise is meaningless. Who will count the flights? Who will enforce it? Will the helicopter companies really give up half of their revenue? Are 300 noisy flights per day less disturbing than 600?)
November 12, 2015- Opinion by Steven E. Greer, MD
I took the time to attend the City Council hearing on the topic of the noisy air-polluting tourist helicopters. City EDC officials were the key witnesses asked to testify under oath.
Recall, under Mayor Bloomberg, there were three separate tourist heliports that were consolidated into one down at the Seaport. The toxic jet fuel exhaust and noise were too much for the people on the east and west coasts of Manhattan in Midtown, so they shoved the mess to the ignored Seaport area. Since Mayor Bloomberg was a pilot himself, many thought that he gave special favor to the helicopters, allowing them to fly all over the city, close to buildings.
When Mayor de Blasio took over and appointed his own head of the EDC, Maria Torres-Springer, BatteryPark.TV mistakenly assumed that the EDC’s opposition to City Council’s plan to close the heliport would end. This is apparently not the case.
Two employees of the EDC testified today that their agency still opposes any limitations on the tourist flights. They explained that the lease from the heliport earns approximately $3 Million per year. However, they went on to explain that they have paid $2.9 and $3.5 Million payments to contractors to maintain the underwater piles that hold up the pier.
That should seem familiar to BPC residents because the BPCA’s biggest single item expenditures over the last several years has been on the mysterious underwater work being done on the piles. “What better way to funnel money to political allies than to create a bogus construction job that no one can see being performed?”, I have wondered.
City Councilmember Margaret Chin correctly pointed out that the EDC seems to be losing money on the heliport because the expenditures are greater than the revenue.
City Councilmember Brad Lander asked whether the EDC had made any attempt to measure the level of misery that the helicopter noise and pollution causes for the tens of thousands of residents, and how that compares to any revenue gained by the heliport. The EDC staff admitted that they had made no effort to “canvass the neighborhoods”.
The EDC support for such a politically unpopular things as the noisy helicopter, which are operated by a New jersey company and employ few people relative to the masses that they torture, seems to make no political sense. Why would Mayor de Blasio anger thousands of wealthy Manhattan voters just to protect some New Jersey helicopter owners?
There is more to this issue than meets the eye. Some powerful supporters of the political machine, such as construction companies, are behind this EDC opposition.
This entire issue of helicopter noise began when BatteryPark.TV contacted Congressman Nadler’s office years ago and began writing about it. We then helped create the website called Stop the Chop. At the same time, we were raising the issue of the noisy ferry boat horns, and our coverage was picked up in New Yorker magazine and The NYT.
No one from CB1, other than Catherine Hughes, was in attendance at this City Council hearing. No members of the local “press” were there either. Only BatteryPark.TV took the time to attend, make a video, and write a story.