Setting the Record Straight

Westchester County Airport

In politics there are no referees. No umpires calling balls and strikes. If your opponents attack you or misrepresent your record or your positions, you have to call them out. No one else is going to do it. We call this Setting the Record Straight, and this week we are addressing the Westchester County Airport. 


The image to the right is from our opponents recent "news"-letter: 

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Our View

We agree that airport noise has gotten substantially worse since 2017, but we are baffled by suggestions that “little has been done” and the idea that “Team New Castle candidates have been fully engaged on this issue.” For those, like our Republican opponents, who just started learning about this issue recently, we would offer the following timeline and history lesson:  

  

  • February 2017 – Then Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino hires a consultant to aggressively pursue privatization of HPN, over vocal objections from neighboring communities.
  • February 2017 – Councilman Jeremy Saland advocates with Legislator Michael Kaplowitz regarding Astorino’s (disastrous!) plan for airport expansion  and privatization and arranges a public meeting for Kaplowitz to discuss this issue in New Castle.
  • Mid 2017 – Jeremy sends letter to elected officials serving on Town Boards in neighboring communities to advocate for a partnership approach to airport concerns.
  • Summer 2017 – Ivy Pool joins A Peaceful Sky
  • August 2017 – Town Board sends letter to CE Astorino and Kaplowitz opposing the privatization and expansion of the airport.
  • Fall 2017 – Ivy, Jeremy, and Jason all canvass for George Latimer for County Executive, one of the critical actions identified by A Peaceful Sky and other airport advocacy groups.
  • January 2018 – County Executive George Latimer takes office and immediately reverses plans for the privatization of the airport.  Councilwoman Ivy Pool takes office in New Castle.
  • March 2018 – Ivy, Jeremy, and Jason all attend Coffee and Conversation with Latimer and Kaplowitz. Our opponents were not in the audience. Ivy met with both Latimer and Kaplowitz in advance to brief them on the local concerns regarding the airport and to privately express concerns about      HPN.
  • April 2018 – Town Board Work Session on Airport Noise. Many concerned residents were in the audience; our opponents were not among them.
  • April 2018 – Town Board appoints New Castle Resident Robert Fleisher to the Westchester County Airport Advisory Board.
  • June 2018 – Town Board passes a resolution to establish the New Castle Airport Advisory Committee established and charged with providing guidance and      recommendations to the Town Board.
  • June 2018 – Councilwoman Ivy Pool provides comments during County Executive Latimer’s public feedback sessions on the airport master plan. Requests included 1) reconvening the AAB and reinstituting regular meetings (done!), 2) conducting an analysis of air traffic and noise (in      progress!), and 3) enforcing a mandatory curfew (still needed).
  • June 2018 – Ivy drafts and the Town Board signs and sends letter to County Executive Latimer expressing further concerns about airport noise and other environmental issues.
  • July 2018 – Jason Lichtenthal attends Westchester County Airport Advisory Board meeting to review feedback from listening sessions on the proposed Airport Master Plan process.
  • August 2018 – Ivy and Jeremy attended NCAAC meeting with airport noise expert Peter Kirsch to discuss next steps. Kirsch’s advice: engage neighboring communities to reduce costs and increase chance of success.
  • October 2018 – At the recommendation of the NCAAC, the Town Board sends a letter to County Executive requesting changes to the addendum to the airport master plan RFP supplement, including a request for “an analysis of the root causes of the increase in noise pollution.” This recommendation was the genesis for the County’s HMMH contract.
  • [February 2019 - Jim Smith registers to vote in New Castle]
  • March 2019 – Ivy provides public comments to the AAB and followed up with the County regarding the need to: 1) Conduct an analysis of the air traffic and flight patterns (in progress), 2) institute mandatory curfew (still needed), 3) increase landing fees (analysis in progress).
  • [March 2019 - Jim Smith and Lauren Levin announce their candidacy, and begin to learn about airport issues]
  • April 2019 - During the State of the County address, attended by Ivy Pool and Jason Lichtenthal, CE George Latimer speaks about the County’s work on airport issues over the past year, as well as his commitment to finding solutions to mitigate the noise concerns and other environmental issues. Latimer specifically mentioning the Town of New Castle and our residents’ concerns.
  • April  2019 – After intense lobbying on behalf of New Castle, Ivy secures a meeting with CE Latimer and Legislator Kaplowitz, which Jeremy attends, along with Supervisor Rob Greenstein and members of the NCAAC.
  • April 2019 – Ivy drafts a letter, signed by the entire Town Board, requesting that Congresswoman Nita Lowey sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 976, also known as the Air Traffic Noise and Pollution Expert Consensus Act of 2019, which she does.
  • April 2019 – County approves legislation to mandate airport water testing.
  • April 2019 - Jason Lichtenthal attends AAB meeting to review the analysis of airport traffic presented by members of the AAB.
  • May 2019 – After direct advocacy and communications with the County, Councilwoman Ivy Pool receives confirmation from County Executive George Latimer’s office that Westchester County has entered into a $200k contract with a leading airport noise consultant (HMMH) for a an airport noise study.  This was the direct result of a request made by the Town and Councilman Saland’s advocacy during our meeting with the County Executive in April!
  • May 2019 – Councilwoman Ivy Pool, Supervisor Greenstein and members of the NCAAC attend meeting with the Office of NYS Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. After this meeting, Senator Gillibrand agrees to write a letter to the FAA demanding a public meeting in Westchester County to address airport      concerns.
  • June 2019 - Jason Lichtenthal attends WC AAB to understand the proposal to increase landing fees.
  • July 2019 – County Executive Latimer, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, and Congresswoman Lowey jointly send a letter to the FAA requesting a public meeting and hold a press conference to announce the same.
  • October 2019 – Councilman Jeremy Saland and Councilwoman Ivy Pool draft a letter signed by the entire Town Board to CE Latimer strongly urging him to 1) release the phase 1 results of the HMMH study, 2) Fast-track the proposed meeting with the FAA, 3) prepare for potential legal action against the      FAA. 
  • October 2019 - Town Board authorizes a contract with a leading aviation attorney to review the HMMH contract and Phase 1 analysis to determine whether additional analysis is needed, and to prepare a scope of work for the same.


While we applaud the Republican candidates for being quick studies on the airport issue, and thank them for their willingness as candidates to jump in and contribute their voices to this urgent issue, their claim that Ivy and Jeremy have been inactive or unresponsive is simply, clearly untrue. In fact, the entire Town Board – Supervisor Greenstein, Deputy Supervisor Katz, and Council Members Makowska, Pool, and Saland have been unified and worked together every step of the way.  

Last word...

Our Republican opponents want to use taxpayer dollars to sue the FAA, an approach that we think will be both costly and ultimately unsuccessful. We are ready and willing to put New Castle first, but we maintain that working with the County is critical, and that the two are not mutually exclusive. We believe that cooperation with County and Federal elected officials is paramount to making change happen and that any potential lawsuit should be initiated by the County and/or a coalition of neighboring communities, as opposed to a costly go-it-alone approach with little chance of success.  With a clear distinction in terms of policy approach, we find it unseemly that the Republicans need to perpetuate lies about our supposed inaction. Please, let’s debate the issues and stick to the facts!