Local reporter takes note of frequency of helicopter tours and the distress it causes to New Yorkers, bringing into question Mayor de Blasio's refusal to ban these needless flights.
Tourist Thrill Becomes a Residential Nuisance Written by Mary Kekatos on July 23, 2014. Posted in News Our Town Downtown.
Battery Park City Lower Manhattan is drowning in sound.
Neighbors surrounding popular launching and landing pads for helicopters say that the constant chopper noise is practically unbearable, and they want the city to do something about it.
On a recent Monday, five helicopters in a row take off from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport at Pier 6 on the East River – all within a two minute period between 12:23 and 12:25 p.m. This isn’t an unusual schedule.
“I live in Battery Park City, and there is no time between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. that there isn’t at least one helicopters flying outside,” said Delia von Neuschatz, president of Stop the Chop, a grassroots movement concerned about pollution and noise, dedicated to eradicating the helicopter tours.
The heliport is owned by the City of New York and is operated by Saker Aviation, a company based out of Nevada.
Members of Stop the Chop are not the only ones trying to ban the helicopter tours. Advocates for the ban include Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gellibrand and U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
Congressman Nadler has even equated the airspace where the helicopters fly to the “Wild West,” citing the lack of regulation of the air space.
Nadler is one of many that have been trying to ban the helicopter tours for years. Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. of District 71 in Upper Manhattan stated on his website that on June 6, a closed meeting was held at City Hall regarding the helicopter situation. Approximately two dozen elected officials attended, including City Councilman Mark Levine and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Reportedly every single official called for a ban to the helicopters, but the mayor refused to consider a ban.
“I would understand if he doesn’t want to ban [the helicopter tours] because they brought in big amounts of revenue or created jobs, but they don’t,” von Neuschatz said.
According to the city’s concession agreement with First Flight, a subsidiary of Saker Aviation, the city can terminate their contract with 25 days notice for any reason.
“Mayor de Blasio can literally end this at any time with the stroke of a pen – and he just won’t!” von Neuschatz said.
The helicopters can make life miserable for the New Yorkers subjected to the unceasing trips hovering overhead.
“I can’t go one day without hearing the constant noise,” said Bob Parker, who works near the heliport. “It can sometimes be a distraction when I’m working.”
“I have a one year old who often gets woken up from her nap due to the helicopter,” said Jean T., a resident of Battery Park City. “You would think they would be mindful of the fact that Lower Manhattan is also a residential area.”
Several health studies have been released showing how harmful excessive aircraft noise can be. According to a study released by the National Resources Defense Council, adults have been shown to suffer from heart disease and hypertension as a result of exposure to such noise.
Helicopter tours from the West 34th Street heliport and the East 30th Street heliport have been banned due to worries about air and noise pollution. Stop the Chop’s next move is to make sure the same thing happens at the East River.
“We really want to take the mayor to task about why he won’t do anything,” von Neuschatz said. “Membership [for Stop the Chop] is growing daily, so hopefully he will see the numbers and finally do something about this.”
Saker Aviation did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Stop the Chop NYNJ is a local grassroots coalition of NY and NJ residents seeking to educate the public about the adverse effects of helicopters sightseeing tours on the environment and on the health and welfare of the two million people living underneath their Hudson River flight path.