2015 file video: Sky Harbor flight path draws complaints from Phoenix neighborhoods.
Historic neighborhoods plan fundraiser April 27 to help cover costs for flight path lawsuit.
Every night around 8 p.m. a British Airways jet flies directly above Steve Dreiseszun’s house in F.Q. Story, a historic neighborhood in central Phoenix.
It’s one of a steady stream of jets that fly over his home each day. Some nights the noise is worse than others, rattling his home and making it difficult to carry a conversation if he is outdoors talking with a neighbor.
Since 2014, Dreiseszun and others from Phoenix’s historic neighborhoods near downtown Phoenix have been waging an expensive legal battle with federal officials, trying to get them to change flight paths at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to preserve the quality of life in some of the Valley’s oldest and most cherished communities.
Three historic neighborhoods, F.Q. Story, Encanto-Palmcroft and Roosevelt are hosting a fundraiser at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater on April 27 to raise money for their legal defense.
Hoping to raise $25,000
Neighborhoods and donors have raised about $100,000 and the Roosevelt Action Association, which is hosting the event, hopes to raise an additional $25,000, pushing them closer to the $140,000 they need.
To cover remaining legal fees, the Roosevelt Action Association will host a social event and fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St. It will include a silent auction, featuring signed copies of books by local authors, artwork from artists within the neighborhoods and gift cards to local restaurants.
For $10 a ticket, guests will also receive a glass of wine donated by local restaurant Forno 301 and appetizers.
The venue, once a church but restored into a theater, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is in the Roosevelt Historic District.
New flight paths
Two years ago the Federal Aviation Administration implemented new flight paths out of Sky Harbor without public outreach or forewarning, city officials and residents of Phoenix historic neighborhoods say.
As a result, Sky Harbor received more than 15,000 more noise complaints than Los Angeles International Airport in 2015, according to a George Mason University report.
The city of Phoenix filed a petition for judicial review led by law firm Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell while historic neighborhoods did the same with Dentons law firm; both were consolidated for scheduling purposes.
Nearly two years after the changes, three federal judges finally heard oral arguments from the city and neighborhoods March 17 at the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.
Now the judges will confer and form an opinion on the case that could be issued anytime between now and the end of the year, according to city officials.
Moving forward, community members would like the FAA to revert to former flight paths, many of which went over river bottoms rather than neighborhoods, or at least develop an outreach program to consult with residents elsewhere before making changes.
The National Defense Authorization Act also requires the FAA to review the flight path changes in 2017.
The FAA, however, is standing firm.
“This was a long and complex project, and the FAA redesigned the entire Phoenix air traffic control system to handle the new procedures,” said Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA Pacific Division in an email. “The former procedures are not fully compatible with the new airspace design. In some cases, new arrival routes conflict with old departure routes.”
But residents say there must be ways to reduce the noise without eliminating the program entirely.
“I don’t know that we’ll get the flight paths changed to what it has been, but I think that it will be changed so that it is not so damaging,” said Sherry Rampy, former president of the RAA who is organizing the fundraiser.
Affecting real estate sales
Rampy is a real estate broker specializing in historic and vintage properties in central Phoenix and downtown Phoenix and has been for 24 years.
“I have had at least six clients tell me they will not look in specifically (FQ) Story because of the noise,” Rampy said. “So I think this is the worst thing I’ve seen happen to the historic districts in the last 25 years.”
Dreiseszun, who has lived in F.Q. Story for 40 years, is especially upset.
“We understand that noise is an inherent issue when you have a close city airport,” Dreiseszun said. “But everyone knew where the flight paths were. People would make investments, life choices and business decisions all based on that environmental condition.”
To purchase a ticket to the April 27 fundraiser, visit http://www.rooseveltneighborhood.org/celebration-of-historic-preservation/. To donate, visit https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=115215. To stay updated, visit the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lets-Make-Some-Noise-792081077500585/.
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