Amidst protests by residents in southeast Queens, the Port Authority has announced that they will modify their JFK runway plans to avoid removing as many as 800 trees from Idlewild Park. The initial plan, which was unveiled last year, said that the mass removal of trees was necessary to comply with federal safety regulations.
The preliminary plan looked to shift the existing runway to the north, directly across from Idlewild. Since new federal regulations stipulate that airports provide safety zones at the ends of runways, the city’s Park Department tagged hundreds of trees identified as aviation hazards to low-flying planes.
Though the Parks Department attempted to mollify residents by saying they would first cut down invasive species and replace those removed with lower-ground trees, residents fought back against the relocation. In addition to the loss of trees, residents also feared that the lower flights might make the park unusable and the surrounding areas too noisy.
To avoid cutting down hundreds of trees, Port Authority’s revised plan scrapped the relocation and keeps the runway in its original location. The airport operator also added that instead of cutting down trees in the future, they will first explore the option of installing lights to alert pilots to the trees.