Mayors want piece of noise abatement money

By Ed Brock

At Mitchell's Garage on Huie Road airplanes passing overhead sometimes easily compete with the noise of the shop.

"Some days they're pretty noisy," mechanic Clark Morris said. "You can't help but hear them."

Not far from Mitchell's is Lake City City Hall on the corner of Jonesboro and Huie roads.

"We happened to video tape some planes going right over city hall," Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt said.

That video demonstrates that Lake City should get a share of the latest $1.9 million grant that the Federal Aviation Administration recently gave to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport for property acquisition and noise abatement, Oswalt said.

"All we want is to get a head start on this and get our fair share," Oswalt said.

And to that end Oswalt and Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall have met with U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia, at Lake City City Hall to enlist the congressman's help in getting some of the money. During that meeting they showed Scott the Lake City airplane video that reportedly shows windows shaking from the sound of the jet.

"We wanted assurances that the cities weren't going to be overlooked," Hall said. "He promised to look into it."

Scott has scheduled another meeting for Oct. 6 at his offices in Jonesboro with the two mayors and representatives from the FAA and Hartsfield along with others including Morrow Mayor Jim Millirons. Noise from airplanes landing at Hartsfield are a problem there, too, Morrow City Manager John Lampl said.

"It's not every day and it's not every plane, but it doesn't have to be every day. Just once is enough," Lampl said.

The money is part of a nearly $46 million grant Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta presented to Hartsfield officials on Aug. 15. The majority of the grant money is supposed to go for improving security at the airport, specifically for the installation of explosive detection machines, Mineta said during his presentation of the money.

Also, the $1.9 million is intended to be spent in areas with an average 70 to 74 dnl, or day/night sound level average, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. But Bergen said she couldn't say what specific areas around the airport are included in that range.

"We issue the money to the airport and the airport purchases the land," Bergen said.

A comment was not available from Hartsfield.

"I don't know what all it can be used for until we sit down and look at the final draft (of sound contour measurements around the airport)," Hall said.

Hall did say that the schools in the north part of the city and perhaps one of the city's two fire stations still need sound protection.

Scott said he's just trying to provide the leadership to pull all the parties together.

"Certainly everybody has a role to play. We're pulling a team together to get the job done," Scott said. "We want to make sure that living next to the airport is not a negative on the quality of life."