Aviation department to install more airport noise monitors
by STEPHANIE CHOPORIS
The Chicago Department of Aviation and the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission will install eight additional airport noise monitors in Chicago and in the suburbs near O’Hare International Airport that have been most affected by changes in takeoff and landing patterns last October.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel directed the department to work with the commission and with Aldermen Michael Zalewski (32nd), Margaret Laurino (39th), Patrick O’Connor (40th) and Mary O’Connor (41st) to identify locations for the new monitors based on existing and future flight paths near O’Hare.
The plan for the new monitors was announced after 10,961 noise complaints were made to the O’Hare noise hotline and the commission’s Web site in April, up from the 1,863 complaints made last April. Of the nearly 11,000 complaints, 49 percent were made by 10 addresses, according to the airport noise management system’s monthly report.
The report also showed that in April 544 complaints came from the 39th Ward, 2,501 came from the 41st Ward and 629 were from the 45th Ward. The department has 33 noise monitors bear O’Hare.
The department uses criteria to establish potential new locations for monitors such as proximity to flight paths, distance from noise counters, area of coverage by monitors, noise levels in the area and access to utilities.
Jason Hernandez, an advisor to Mary O’Connor, said that the alderman wants several monitors in her ward to accurately reflect the noise levels. "She would like to see every community represented," Hernandez said.
Jac Charlier, the leader Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, said that additional noise monitors represent "a small part of the solution" to jet noise problems and that the focus should be on involving residents in selecting monitor locations. "Those experiencing the problem have tremendous insight as to where those monitors should be placed," Charlier said.
The coalition is made up of community organizations on the Northwest Side.
Charlier said that the procedure for releasing data from current noise monitors is lacking. He said the data are not released to residents until months later they are collected.
Charlier said that FAIR wants protocols established on when and to whom data is released, information from every noise incident rather than average figures and noise monitors that will cover future runways.
Emanuel is seeking to expand representation on the commission in areas as far east of the airport as the 40th Ward, which is 12 miles from O’Hare. Charlier said that the commission should add representatives from the 33rd, the 35th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th and 50th wards and make changes to its membership structure.
The coalition group called for the resignation of aviation department commissioner Rosemarie Andolino in May, and she tendered her resignation in June. The group also is requesting the resignation of commission chairman Arlene Mulder and executive director Jeanette Camacho.
Charlier said new commission leaders should have "proven democratic engagement with citizens." He said that the commission currently does not display that kind of engagement and that the its decisions are invalid until such interaction is achieved.