The Record, Wednesday, June 6, 2001
Teterboro Airport foes plan big protest
By DANIEL SFORZA
Hundreds of residents from 12 Bergen County towns are expected at a rally Thursday to protest the noise and pollution they say is caused by planes taking off and landing at Teterboro Airport.
The Coalition for Public Health and Safety, with officials from the 12 communities, has organized the protest march to call for a cut in the number of planes flying in and out of Teterboro.
"We are hoping to send a real clear message to the Port Authority and FAA officials," said South Hackensack Mayor Nick Brando. "We're fed up. We can no longer tolerate the fumes and all the pollutants in the air. It's just really destroyed our regular life."
Officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport, say they want to meet the residents' concerns.
"That is one of the primary reasons why . . . we have met repeatedly with members of the community and with elected officials," said Port Authority spokesman Pasquale DiFulco.
Federal Aviation Administration officials declined to comment on the planned protest.
The coalition towns are Bogota, Ridgefield Park, Little Ferry, South Hackensack, Carlstadt, Hackensack, Rutherford, East Rutherford, Moonachie, Teaneck, Hasbrouck Heights, and Teterboro.
Together, they have paid $60,000 for a study on the noise and pollution generated by Teterboro. Results are expected in August.
"We're hoping, at least, to get a minimum of 500 to 1,000 people," Brando said. "If we can at least get out 100 from each town [in the coalition], we'd be in good shape."
Brando said the rally will begin at 330 Phillips Ave. in South Hackensack at 5 p.m. Protesters will walk west on Route 46 to the airport. A police escort will help control traffic, he said.
"This demonstrates that when we organize as a group we can accomplish more and get more attention," said Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan. "I want to elevate the visibility of this issue."
Lonegan said his worry is that larger planes will begin landing at Teterboro. Already, Boeing is seeking to land its Business Jet, a converted 737, at Teterboro.
The Port Authority has repeatedly denied that they want larger planes to land there and have said they do not intend to lift the 100,000-pound runway weight limit that has kept planes such as the Business Jet out of Teterboro.
Rutherford resident Paul Griffo said Bergen County residents should have the final say on Teterboro's future.
"What we hope to accomplish is getting the FAA and the Port Authority to recognize that the citizens of Bergen County want a curfew, quieter jets, and do not want the weight limits changed at the airport," he said. "Who owns Bergen County? The Port Authority or the people who live here?"