Over the years the Philadelphia International Airport has become progressively busier. From people needing to fly in, fly out and the traffic surrounding its roads for drop-offs and pick-ups, it has become quite tight. In order to accommodate this high amount of traffic, Philadelphia has decided to expand the airport boundaries.
Over the past 10 years, Philadelphia has been working with the City Planning Commission on the Capacity Enhancement Program. This program details exactly how the new dimensions of the airport will look. Every year Philadelphia’s City Planning Commission has a board meeting with the city of Philadelphia to review the new changes. Discussion of the layout, zoning, configurations and process of elimination frequently occurs during these meetings. Often by the end of the board meetings there are new additions, things being taken away and things being moved to new locations. Currently, the commissioners and the city have what is to be believed as the perfect floor plan and intend to follow through with it.
The current dimensions for the new airport will include additional runways, longer runways and a lot of additional space to accommodate the new add-ons needed.
“The airport is the center of greater Philadelphia. It is a global asset for the region and it needs to be operated that way,” said John Haak, the senior planner at Philadelphia City Planning Commission.
By allowing a higher capacity for take offs and landings, this expansion will not only bring more people into the area, but the expansion will also put the Philadelphia International Airport on the map.
While this new expanded airport will do a lot for those using flights and for the city of Philadelphia, it has caused a lot of anguish for the surrounding residential areas. Many people in the surrounding neighborhoods, such as Southwest Philadelphia and Tinicum Township, said they feel that this expansion is not only unnecessary, but it is also pushing them out of their homes.
Since the airport has started working on this expansion, the people in the nearby neighborhoods have experienced a lot of changes. From losing homes to new installations, the surrounding communities are not happy about the changes.
“It is all so political. I have lived here all my life and they are probably going to take my home. They already took many others,” said June Ryan, a resident in the neighborhood.
“They are suppose to be flying over the river, but they don’t. After it gets darker out they constantly fly over our homes and it is very loud. I can’t stand it,” said Sandy McCafferty, a local resident in the community.
These complaints against the Capacity Enhancement Program have caused the city and the City Planning Commission to take further steps in preventing any more complications with the local residents.
“We are currently working with the city and the airport to update the zoning. With a larger zoning area for the airport, we wouldn’t have to worry about the area being used for this expansion. It would all be for airport use,” Haak said.
Until the zoning issues are resolved and further work can be done on the Enhancement Program, the Federal Aviation Administration has gone to great lengths to keep many of the residents happy in an attempt to keep them from fighting the expansion any further.
“The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for many of the aspects in this expansion,” Haak said.
“The FAA has come out and replaced all of our windows to keep it quiet. The problem is that no one wants to keep their windows shut all year round,” Ryan said.
“They have replaced windows and gave us air-conditioning to prevent noise from entering our homes,” said Angie Haggner, a local resident.
While the Federal Aviation Program continues to attempt to appease the local residents, the community still is rising up against the Capacity Enhancement Program. A new organization has recently been made, the RAAED, Residents Against Airport Expansion in Delco. This organization consists of local residents in just one of the affected neighborhoods.
All of the residents who are against the new airport Capacity Enhancement Program have posted signs in windows and lawns, signifying their resistance against airport expansion. The signs state that homes are not for sale and that the people do not support airport expansion.
‘This sign is in almost all of our years and windows. It’s our way of telling them we don’t want to move and we don’t agree with the expansion,” McCafferty said.
“This sign shows that our homes are not for sale. Most of us have lived here our whole lives and now they just want to push us out,” said Elizabeth Peterson, a local resident.
As much as the city of Philadelphia, the City Planning Commission and the FAA continue to push the Capacity Enhancement Program, local residents do not seem as though they will budge. The residents in these areas care more about their homes, neighbors and memories than making room for a few runways.
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