By Seth Daniel
There have been fewer frustrating situations lately than the increase in the number, proximity and volume of airplanes coming and going from Logan Airport during the past few months as a project to re-pave runways has played out, and now two City Councillors have decided now is the perfect time to ask for an independent noise study of plane traffic over Chelsea.
Councillors Dan Cortell and Roy Avellaneda, two staunch critics of Logan, put in an order on Monday night’s meeting calling for the City Manager Tom Ambrosino to authorize funds for a third party to perform a comprehensive sound study as it relates to the noise from airplanes passing over Chelsea from Logan. The order calls for monitors to be placed under and around flight paths over an appropriate period of time to get a reading of decibel levels and frequency of planes.
When that data is received, it would be compared to the existing Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) noise abatement requirements.
The matter was praised by other councilors and passed the Council.
The initiative was the latest volley in what has been an historic rough relationship with MassPort regarding the frequency of planes and the level of sound coming over Chelsea. Chelsea also hosts an Airport Business Overlay District for rental cars and freight forwarding and jet fuel storage. For that, it receives an annual payment to the City, but many feel that the expansion of the airport in recent years demands more mitigation for the residents of Chelsea, who arguably are as close as anyone to the airport except for East Boston.
Both Cortell and Avellaneda said the final straw was when elected officials began fielding numerous calls for increased jet noise. They had few answers, but later learned that a runway re-paving project was diverting more flights over Chelsea from April to June as the project played out.
MassPort said the project would end on June 23, but they told City Manager Tom Ambrosino that they would not come and address the Council about the project.
“We are now looking to get a sound study from an independent third party,” said Cortell. “There is a very difficult thing to do. It’s federal; it’s the FAA. They have rules and guidelines. We believe some studies are too old or not done by and independent third party. We want to see what our numbers reveal.”
Cortell has been a frequent critic because his district on Admiral’s Hill doesn’t get mitigation despite routinely getting very low flights and sometimes, he said, being able to see the faces of the pilots as they approach the Hill.
Avellaneda said Chelsea has been disrespected for too long by MassPort. He said, most recently, the City was snubbed when the airport wanted to expand Terminal E. Now, he said, they have refused to meet with the City in regards to the paving project that has so impacted residents for months.
“When they put together our mitigation package…they really underestimated the numbers of flights Chelsea would get,” he said. “MassPort has not been a very good neighbor. I’ve had discussions with the City Manager about getting us a meeting. Despite his requests, no one from MassPort would come to talk to us. We can now only take it up in our own fight…If we all agree it’s a good idea, we will do a sound study.”
The matter was praised by Councillors Damali Vidot and Luis Tejada as well.
Additionally, the matter has gathered steam in the environmental justice community, and GreenRoots announced Wednesday that it would be holding a meeting on airport noise this coming Monday, June 26, at the Williams School, 6 p.m.