Ditmars homeowners to LGA: ‘we remain frustrated’
by Benjamin Fang
Mar 12, 2019 | 271 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite repeated attempts by the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment team to quell dissatisfaction among some East Elmhurst residents, locals are still upset by the responses.

In a March 5th letter to Richard Smyth, project executive for LaGuardia Redevelopment, the Ditmars Boulevard Block Association (DBBA) wrote that they “remain frustrated and uncertain” that their problems will be resolved.

“Since the inception of this redevelopment project, PANYNJ has been reactive, not proactive,” they wrote, referring to the Port Authority. “PANYNJ did not take preventive measures and was responsive only after complaints were made by DBBA members.”

A month earlier, Smyth penned a letter to the block association emphasizing that Port Authority has always been prepared to pay for any construction-related damages incurred by homeowners.

“This remains our unequivocal commitment,” Smyth wrote.

While two homeowners have accepted offers for compensation and have received payment, the Port Authority continues active discussions with over a dozen others.

Smyth argued that the Port Authority has gone “well beyond both legal requirements and typical efforts” to keep the community informed and address concerns that arise.

Outreach efforts began last summer, and have included door-to-door visits, community meetings and partnering with local groups and elected officials to spread awareness.

As for compensation over structural damage, if it appears to be caused by construction activity, homeowners can either accept a repair estimate made by the engineer or obtain their own estimate, Smyth wrote. Any discrepancy would be negotiated.

“We will remain engaged with homeowners until each concern is resolved,” he wrote, “and all appropriate payments are in the homeowners’ hands.”

Eighteen noise and vibration monitors have been deployed to assess vibrations, including three along the Grand Central Parkway, three in the community and 12 at the airport.

As for air quality monitors, Smyth wrote that there are two at the airport, one on the Grand Central and one in the community. He said this step “goes beyond the requirements” of the project’s environmental assessments.

But the DBBA still takes issues with the Port Authority’s mitigation efforts.

For example, DBBA argues that efforts to monitor air quality have been “so deficient as to be non-existent.”

“Residents on Ditmars Boulevard cannot open their windows because the pollutants have increased since the construction,” they wrote. “Our members experience a fine dust on their windows and cars.”

The block association also hasn’t received any data on air monitoring. They want the Port Authority to release the data and for it to be reviewed independently.

“We are of the humble opinion that our right to breathe clean air is a moral imperative,” the letter reads.

As for the two homeowners who were compensated, DBBA said they live on 27th Avenue, not Ditmars Boulevard. The group expressed concerns that the Port Authority engaged homeowners prematurely.

“Reparations cannot be fully calculated until all construction work ceases,” they wrote.

To conclude, the letter states that the LGA redevelopment project has “fallen short” on the proclaimed goal of being a good neighbor.

“Our association believes in progress and modernization,” it reads, “but not at the expense of destroying our quality of life and equity of our homes.”
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