Crowley’s Amendment Brings Vaughn College $18M Grant

By John Toscano

An amendment by Congressmember Joseph Crowley to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill to fund a noise pollution abatement program around LaGuardia Airport culminated in an $18 million grant to the Port Authority (PA), which operates the airport in East Elmhurst. 

The chief beneficiary of the grant will be the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, on the service road of the Grand Central Parkway, across from the airport.

In announcing the FAA grant to the college, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said it would allow a continuation of the soundproofing projects that are expected to “reduce the disruptiveness of LaGuardia Airport noise pollution”.

Schumer (D–New York) added: “The project will specifically target reducing noise and vibration levels at public buildings on the campus.”

Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx), whose district includes the airport and who has sponsored a program to soundproof schools and residences in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, pointed out: “For too long, students at Vaughn College, as well as thousands of Queens residents, have suffered from the disruptive noise of the airport. On top of the sheer nuisance, noise pollution can also impose serious health risks to residents and has the potential to diminish a student’s ability to concentrate in a classroom.”

The Elmhurst lawmaker urged his colleagues in Congress to move forward with approval of the FAA reauthorization and give the PA access to the funding.

Schumer also expressed concern for the teachers and students, saying, “Colleges are vital to our young adults and noise pollution can be extremely disruptive to both teachers and students. This funding will ensure that the learning and teaching environment at Vaughn College is outstanding.”

Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick, president of the 75-year-old school, recalled that many years ago, then Mayor Fiorello La Guardia suggested that a college to serve the aviation industry should be built near LaGuardia Airport. Eventually, the college was built.

“Unfortunately,” Fitzpatrick continued, “our ideal location, across the street from LaGuardia Airport, has not been ideal for teaching and learning, and our students and faculty are impacted by noise and vibrations.”

Turning his attention to the new funding, Fitzpatrick said, “The soundproofing program provides critical improvements to the quality of the education we provide.” He then thanked Congress, the FAA and the PA for moving the soundproofing program forward.

The college, founded in 1932, is located at 86-01 23rd Ave. near 86th Street. It focuses on the fields of engineering, technology, management and aviation, and offers master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. It recently was ranked by the U.S. News 2009 America’s Best Colleges edition in the top tier of baccalaureate colleges in the north, and also as the most racially and economically diverse college in the region, according to Schumer’s release.

The release also stated that the college recently added a new residence hall and is making significant improvements in its academic programs, which offer students state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and new teaching and learning strategies.


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