By Seth Daniel
The City Council publicly unveiled the recent Airplane Noise Study done by Boston University at a Committee on Conference meeting Monday night, Nov. 13, and the consensus is that there are two different paths – fight in court or use the favorable study as leverage.
The noise study was performed by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health. Those involved in the study included Jonathan Levy, Claire Schollaert and Madeleine Scammell (a Chelsea resident).
That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.
On Monday, Councillors and City Manager Tom Ambrosino met with the study creators and the public to talk about next steps.
Ambrosino explained that the City has had an agreement with MassPort to have a $600,000 annual payment to mitigate the airport uses and airport operations in Chelsea. That agreement ran out in 2015, but he said MassPort has “begrudgingly” continued to pay – but may not renew the deal.
He has asked that they pay $700,000 annually and that they contribute a one-time $3 million payment to create a waterfront park.
Many in the audience, including Ambrosino and GreenRoots Director Roseanne Bongiovanni, are of the opinion that the study should be used as leverage to bring MassPort to the table to agree on mitigation.
“It took us two years just to get a meeting with them about the airport, and then another 18 months to say they would consider doing something,” said Bongiovanni.
Ambrosino said he is a great supporter of the mitigation and park concept – as it would serve the most people – and the report could help make that happen.
“I am a great supporter of the waterfront park,” he said. “That is a piece of mitigation that generates benefits to the most residents of Chelsea and not just a small that will get soundproofing. It won’t be Piers Park in East Boston. That’s a $20 million park, but a $3 million park with the City kicking in $1 million to make it a $4 million park is something that could create a very wonderful waterfront park for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he was of the opinion that it might be best to look at using the study to fight MassPort in court.
“We’re going to get to a point where we have to make a decision about this on behalf of our residents,” he said. “We can squeeze them for $700,000 and a park like the City Manager wants to do, or we do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA…My preference will be to do a proper sound study and fight. I can’t go to residents and say that I got them a park and they are still suffering from the noise.”