Letter: “The helicopter noise Downtown is worse than heard during the Iraq war” says veteran

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Tourist helicopters Seaport 5-26-2014May 3, 2015- Letter to the Editor by Paul Rieckhoff

Dear neighbors at the BPCA,

First off, thank you for your leadership and commitment to our community.

As a proud resident of Battery Park City, I am writing today to ask for your assistance and leadership in ending the scourge on our neighborhood that is relentless tourist helicopter noise. These helicopters are disruptive, unnecessary, dangerous, and destructive to both our environment and our quality of life. If you live in this community, you no doubt have experienced this for yourself.

It’s gotten worse and worse every month–especially in the last year. And now, it’s become truly ridiculous. Today, as our family attempted to enjoy a gorgeous spring day, dozens of these absurdly raucous tourist helicopters loudly buzzed past our building (and the entire neighborhood) at low altitude, non-stop. One after the other, hour after hour, they flew by in close to 30 second intervals. At one point, I counted five different aircraft overhead our community at the same time. This is completely unacceptable.

Helicopter noise is a major quality of life issue that the BPCA should work hard to remedy as soon as possible. It’s about noise pollution, the environmental impact and a legitimate security concern given our proximity to Ground Zero.

I served a combat tour with the US Army in Iraq. And I can tell you without question that the helicopter noise here in Battery Park City is significantly worse than it ever was in Baghdad. And as a combat veteran and 9-11 First Responder, I find it especially troubling that the overall welfare of our community is being compromised so a few tourism companies can make a buck.

I stand with the leaders from Stop The Chop NYNJ and over two dozen elected officials in calling on the Mayor to stop this madness and stand with the families of our community. You must too. As leaders for our community, it is your duty to push relentlessly on this issue in defense of our families. We need the BPCA to lead on this issue as quickly and as aggressively as possible. Like countless other residents in this neighborhood, I stand ready to support you however I can.

A copy of this email has also been sent to local media, including The Broadsheet, our outstanding community newspaper, in order to elevate this conversation and help galvanize community support.

I look forward to your response.

Best regards,

Paul Rieckhoff

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

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