By Alan Ziskin
Old Naples Association
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the Old Naples Association’s request for Naples Municipal Airport to re-evaluate the flight path over downtown and Old Naples.
This has been our request for several years and one of our key initiatives, but has become even more important as residential development in Old Naples has grown significantly. It has further become an issue because the airport now wants to lock-in a GPS type navigation path that would take every southwest departing jet directly over Fifth Avenue South!
We believe that the airport should first conduct a thorough and factual study comparing the noise impact of a Fifth Avenue South flight path to a flight path over Naples Bay, as was used prior to 1997. In that area we are in agreement with a Naples Airport Authority member who, at the last meeting, wondered out loud if it was time to bring in a new and independent consultant to review the numbers.
A new noise study is overdue and would serve to settle what has become a divisive issue in the city.
So far, the airport has refused to conduct an impact study, instead wanting to rely on a study they did in 1997 (16 years ago) that didn’t actually follow the path they’re proposing today, and then a questionable update in 2008 where a different technique was used to measure about half of the Old Naples area.
Let me be clear: A complete and cohesive study examining the path they’re proposing to adopt permanently does not actually exist. There are no data upon which to base one of the most important decisions that will impact our residents for years to come. We believe that a study would prove that there are more residents under the Old Naples path than under the Naples Bay path.
Here are a few reasons why we believe a new study is the only fair and responsible way to determine which path would expose the fewest residents to the least amount of high intensity noise:
* While we believe that there are more residents under the Fifth Avenue path, a new study would provide the current facts on which an informed decision could be made.
* Many fill-in and new developments, often with multi-family and condos placed where a single-family home was in the past, have added a considerable resident count to Old Naples
* Sending jets over water in the Naples Bay is less obtrusive than sending them over the heart of Old Naples which houses many residents and our key economic center
* Naples Bay (water) is at least twice as wide as the Fifth Avenue corridor and because of flight patterns, the sound over the bay and the neighboring residents would be 40 percent quieter than in Old Naples. It is also the closest open water in the event of a jet experiences a catastrophic failure on takeoff.
* A GPS navigation system for the jets over the bay could be put in place to minimize the number of residents impacted — a prospect that won’t work in Old Naples because the Fifth Avenue tract is filled with homes, condos, schools, churches, Cambier Park and social activities.
* Many residents and people from all around Naples and the world enjoy dining and entertainment on Fifth Avenue. Is it really wise or appropriate to have jets flying over our heads, especially in season when the air traffic is very considerable? Flying over the water of the bay has no such negative impact.
* Within the next few years, 300 new townhomes and condos will be added with the Naples Square development, bringing 500-600 more residents under the Fifth Avenue path. There are no such developments under the Naples Bay path and the extent of the water will limit growth going forward.
We believe a new and accurate impact study should be completed to address the resident count question and the other issues raised here. Without facts, our city and our communities will never be satisfied that their area has been given a fair and equitable hearing. We encourage all residents across Naples to become involved in a fair, open, and objective review that respects the integrity of each one of us.