A Complex Issue of Policy, Environmental Justice and Irresponsible Governance Reduced to Navel Gazing

Credit: MiGri


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To the Editor:

Jim Cameron’s recent column, “Talking Transportation: NIMBYs and Noise“, takes a highly complex issue of infrastructure policy, environmental justice and irresponsible governance–and reduces it to so much navel-gazing. I was very disappointed to see the question of Tweed-New Haven Airport’s proposed expansion discussed in such a shortsighted and superficial manner, and the opposition to it dismissed as NIMBY-ism. The harms being done to the entire coastal area of New Haven County go far beyond ‘noise’ (although, having experienced both myself, I will say that living close to 20+ daily take-offs and landings of Boeing 737s is nothing like living near I-95, as Mr. Cameron would have discovered had he done more research for his piece.)  

The question is not, “Didn’t these people choose to buy homes near an airport?” Rather, a responsible columnist would ask: What is being gained, and what is being lost, by tripling the size of a small airfield surrounded by long-established residential neighborhoods? How can  the shibboleth of “economic development” STILL be used to justify the irreversible destruction of coastal wetlands in this era of climate crisis?  What are we to make of the fact that so many of the benefits flow to residents of the outer suburbs–not to mention Yale University–while the bulk of the harms fall on little East Haven, one of Connecticut’s designated Environmental Justice Communities?  Does the ‘convenience’ of skipping the hour drive to Bradley really outweigh the respiratory health of East Haven’s children, who already suffer some of the highest asthma rates in the state? I understand that Mr. Cameron may not be an investigative journalist, but his article was a missed opportunity to talk honestly and deeply about transportation policy in our state, and what aspects of the public good are–or are NOT–being served by Tweed’s expansion. 

I found this especially frustrating given the excellent column Mr. Cameron wrote only a week earlier, “Why Not the Train?” Many of us who oppose Tweed’s expansion are asking the same question–has the state even looked into the feasibility of adding a spur to Bradley International off the New Haven-Springfield rail line? Wouldn’t that serve the convenience of travelers just as well, without the collateral damage to the environment and public health of the shoreline? I realize Avelo’s investors at Goldman-Sachs wouldn’t benefit from it, but perhaps it’s worth considering.

Please–we depend on local journalism to dig deep on local issues, not to repeat the talking points of appointed officials and internet trolls.

Gretl Gallicchio
New Haven, CT