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Case Studies in Airport/Stakeholder Communication 73 Further, it has one of the few noise budget agreements that are in place in the United States. The con- cern of losing local control over the noise conditions has led the airport, its neighbors, and its users to proactively seek accommodation by working together to meet noise management goals. The air- port has developed a communications program to educate the public about the opportunities and constraints that are in place, as well as a negotiation process with the airlines to address the issues as they arise. Further information and reference materials for LGB can be found among the best prac- tice tools referenced in Chapter 4 and in the Bibliography (found in the Toolkit), as well as on the airport's noise management website at www.longbeach.gov/airport/noiseabatement/. Cargo Hub Airport--Louisville International Airport/Standiford Field (SDF) Noise Compatibility Program, http://www.flylouisville.com/about/noiseprogram.asp Accessed 7/22/2008. (108) The communications program for noise at Louisville International Airport (SDF) was selected to be a case study because it illustrates unique issues associated with large cargo hub airports. Airports with significant all-cargo carrier activity can generate disproportionately more com- ment and complaint from the public because of the increased number of night flights. SDF illus- trates a unique approach to communications that includes extensive involvement of airport users and the community in developing mutually agreeable solutions, as well as the involvement of elected officials in a unique land use management solution the relocation of an entire town. The techniques that SDF used are relevant to other airports with a high level of public contro- versy about significant noise effects, and more particularly those airports with a substantial level of cargo service, nighttime operations, or substantial relocation issues. SDF has commercial passenger service (3.8 million passengers per year), general aviation activ- ity, serves as a base for the Kentucky Air National Guard, and as all-cargo operations. The airport and an associated general aviation airport, Bowman Field, together are the largest employment center in the Louisville Metropolitan area generating jobs, and state and local taxes. According to the SDF website, the airport ranks third in North America, and ninth in the world, in the total amount of cargo handled as home of United Parcel Service's (UPS) international air- sorting hub. The airport handled 4.5 billion pounds of cargo, freight and mail in 2007. In 1981, UPS began a new overnight package-delivery business with air hub operations at the airport. In 2005, the company moved its heavy airfreight hub to the airport after closing the Day- ton, Ohio, air hub. In May 2006, UPS announced a $1 billion expansion that would increase sort- ing capacity over the next five years and create more than 5,000 additional jobs in addition to the over 1,000 jobs already in existence. The airport is owned and operated by the Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA), an independent public agency. As such, the Authority is responsible for the day-to-day operation of, as well as the long-term planning for, the airport. The Authority is self-funded and derives oper- ating revenue from a variety of user fees. It does not receive local or state funding for the routine operations of the airport. An 11-member board of directors governs the Authority and sets pol- icy, approves the budget and hires its executive director, who serves as the organization's chief executive officer. The board is comprised of the Mayor of Louisville, seven mayoral appointees, and three gubernatorial appointees, one of whom is a member of the Airport Neighbors Alliance Executive Committee. SDF is situated on 1200 acres, 10 minutes south of downtown Louisville. Although most of the surrounding land is industrially used, the airport is in the middle of the city and there are close-in residential uses to the east, west and north. The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center is
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74 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations just to the north and the University of Louisville is northwest of the airport along the extended centerlines of the primary parallel runways. Industrial uses and a landfill are located immedi- ately to the south, beyond which is an area that has undergone the substantial change to be described in the following section. Brief History of Noise Abatement The airport was built for the military in 1941 and was turned over for passenger service as Stan- diford Field in the late 1940s. There was steady growth of the airport and related facilities through the 1970s. The opening of UPS hub service in 1981, along with continuing passenger service growth, put pressure on the airport to improve and expand its facilities. In 1988 the Louisville Air- port Improvement Plan called for the building of a new airport on top of the old, while keeping the old open to operations. That program, coupled with a large urban renewal project adjacent to the airport, generated a significant public reaction. The first phase of the FAA-approved program for airport expansion began in 1991 with the voluntary relocation of more than 1,500 homes and 150 businesses. In 1993, the focus switched from an airport expansion-related relocation to a noise-related relocation under the airport's first Part 150 Program. Under that program, people living within the airport's 65 Ldn (day-night average sound level) contour were eligible for relocation. Over the next four years the FAA approved the expansion of voluntary relocation to include a total of over 2,000 homes. With the extensive voluntary relocation, there began to be a shortage of homes in the right price categories available as relocation destinations. To address those issues, one of the cities tar- geted for relocation, the City of Minor Lane Heights, located to the south of the airport along the extended centerlines of the parallel runways, developed legislation to allow it to move away from the airport to a new location about four miles southwest of SDF. The airport helped iden- tify appropriate property and the Kentucky General Assembly approved the move. The program was funded in 1997 and 1998 with an FAA Innovative Financing Grant for $10 million, matched with $10 million by the Airport Authority. With those funds, the Authority purchased and devel- oped the infrastructure on a 287-acre site, which became known as Heritage Creek. Under the Heritage Creek Program, the Airport Authority reimburses families from Minor Lane Heights who sought to build new homes in Heritage Creek. In 1999 the City of Minor Lane Heights offi- cially annexed the Heritage Creek area for its new city. About 25 homes remain in the previous Minor Lane Heights location near the airport, occupied by owners who have chosen not to relo- cate. The offer to relocate remains in effect. In 1998 and 1999 SDF prepared an update of the Part 150 Study using a Noise Compatibility Study outreach program that involved over 1,000 people. The purpose of the program was to create a plan with the least amount of aircraft noise over the fewest number of families. In May 2004, the FAA approved many of the recommendations in SDF's proposed Noise Compatibility (Part 150) Program Update. The National Organization to Insure a Sound-controlled Environment (NOISE) named the Louisville Regional Airport Authority its 2005 Mary E. Griffin Airport Operator of the Year. NOISE is the United States' oldest nationwide community based association committed to reducing the impact of aviation noise on local communities. The resolution said, "NOISE seeks to honor airport operators which engage local communities and consider their concerns about noise impacts as a strategy for a healthy long-term relationship with the community." The award resolution detailed the following among the reasons for the award: (108) · "Through its broad-ranging Noise Compatibility Study Group, and successor Community Noise Forum, the Authority has provided means to compile a Noise Compatibility Program of unprecedented scope and prospective impact;" and
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Case Studies in Airport/Stakeholder Communication 75 · "The Authority has developed and administered an extensive program of voluntary residen- tial relocation, including reestablishment of an entire small city in a new development outside the noise-impacted area;" and · "By organizing its staff to provide responsive support to community concerns and develop further measures to enhance noise reduction measures, the Authority has striven to become a good neighbor." Interview Results The case study interviews were focused on including persons responsible for management and communication of the noise abatement program, representation of formal community groups, as well as others with insight into the special issues at this airport. Although SDF com- pleted the on-line survey in the summer of 2007, they were not selected for the original fall, 2007 follow-up interviews. For the spring, 2008 case study interviews, the following individuals were interviewed: · Noise and Environmental Programs Officer, Louisville Regional Airport Authority; · Chair, Louisville Community Noise Forum; · Board Member, Louisville Regional Airport Authority; · Mayor, Heritage Creek (Minor Lane Heights); · UPS Airport Properties representative, Louisville and Minneapolis. Key Issues. In determining what particular lessons may be derived from this case study, it is important to understand the issues that complicate the lessons. Growth pressures on the air- port caused, in large part, by location of a UPS hub in the early 1980s and subsequent expansion resulted in the decision to rebuild and reorient the airport on its existing site and to expand the facility. The resulting residential relocation was initially for airport expansion and later for noise abatement. Because the airport was surrounded by the city and its major tenant UPS operated a nighttime operation unacceptable to the public, large numbers of people were directly affected by the rebuilding and expansion. Those community representatives interviewed perceived that they had little warning and no involvement until the plan was announced in the media and its likely impact on them disclosed. Some believe that the airport did not willingly work with the community early on, but changed its approach in response to community pressure. From the resulting public uproar and mistrust on all sides, an approach of listening, talking, cooperating, and trust gradually evolved. There were three primary factors that led to success in changing crisis to resolution. First, a large scale working group process that involved the community, users, and the airport developed a solu- tion. Second was the willingness of the major user, UPS, to invest time and resources in solutions and to be open to ideas. Finally, the creative involvement of an elected official who helped develop and implement creative solutions was critical. Representatives of the airport, UPS, and the community all agree that they now have a good relationship that is characterized by trust. The process was neither easy nor perfect, but it provides lessons for others. One example of how communications have improved was when, after a series of meetings, a member of the public jumped in to correct the facts and misperceptions about noise made by another member of the public, before the airport users and airport management had a chance to respond. Findings. The interviews were open-ended to allow for exploration of the unique situation in Louisville. The observations that follow in the matrix were drawn from the interviews to include a selection of the primary ideas about communications techniques that successfully worked at the airport as well as those that the airport found it should avoid.