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You are here: HomeCommitteesTechnology Advisory CommitteeLanding Lights Area Improvement Project (opportunity)

Landing Lights Area Improvement Project (opportunity)

Landing Lights Page Shortcuts

The Landing Lights opportunity is best told by scrolling down this page. For the experienced user, the following shortcuts are provided.

Major Parks in Community District 3

Landing Lights Park is southwest of LaGuardia Airport.

Landing Lights Park

From end to end, Landing Lights Park is in 9 parsels
spread over 4/10 of a mile.

Park Area View from 1000 Feet

Landing Lights Park is encircled by one and two family homes
(some attached), a church, school, seniors residence, an
airport parking lot, and a few retail stores. For
additional area photos, see this page on Flickr.

One Resident's Vision

A park neighbor submitted the above drawing at a Community Board 3
Parks Committee meeting in January 2006.

Project Planning Resources

While the Landing Lights Opportunity centers on a park, the trigger issue is LaGuardia Airport and the impact it has on its surrounding neighborhoods. The following resources can help the residents plan a park and respond to the neighborhood's traffic, noise, and air pollution problems.

Park Planning
  • Paths - Project for Public Spaces has a remarkable library of photos of public spaces. For example, see these path photos.
  • Amenities - Public amenities come in great variety as shown in this library of images from the Project for Public Spaces.
  • Friends of the Park - If the community is to address its needs on an ongoing basis, caring for the park and addressing noise and air quality concerns, they'll need to organize themselves. One possibility that's worked elsewhere in the community is a Friends of the Park committee. See this helpful site on creating a Friends of the Park.
  • Virtual Park - As the residents begin to make decisions on the scope of the changes they'd like to see in the park area, they will be able to visualize them using a 3-D virtual park that has been made available by New York Law School's Democracy Workshop. See the info on the virtual park tools below.
  • Imagining Public Space in an Era of Mobility - Cell phones, laptops, PDAs and other mobile devices provide a new opportunity for integrating the real and virtual worlds. To explore this aspect of park development opportunities, see these resources .
Other Resources
  • Home Value Appreciation - A report from NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values, details how certain park enhancements improve home values.
  • Airport Capital Projects Fund Agreement - The Airport Lease Community Project Agreement outlines how a $100 million fund arising from the LaGaurdia Airport lease extension may be spent on local projects. The Fund is to be invested in the community between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. See the press release for the initial $39.6 million allocation from this fund.
  • Noise Abatement - Many residents see noise and air pollution as the most pressing problems of the Landing Lights area. See the Noise Abatement page for info on this issue.

Statement of Possibilities

The following summarizes the opportunity and prospects for a community improvement plan in the northwest section of the district, the Landing Lights Park area. - Thomas Lowenhaupt


Several events have converged to present Queens Community Board 3 with a grand opportunity to lead a significant new community improvement project: the Landing Lights Area Improvement Project. The events include:
  • The transfer of the baseball field property from DCAS to the Parks Department.
  • The extension of the LaGuardia Airport Lease to the year 2050 and the creation of a $100 million Queens Airport Projects Fund for use in local capital efforts.
  • The expansion plans of Vaughn College, adjacent to the park.
  • The Greenway bike path that seeks a route through north end of the park. 

Making the effort particularly appealing is the existence of the Airport Projects Fund. The Fund was created with the recognition that "the operation of the Marine Air Terminals (LaGuardia &Kennedy Airports) has a wide-ranging impact on the Borough of Queens in the City of New York." And there is no more deserving a project than one that improves the lives of the neighbors surrounding Landing Lights Park, for they shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of city life. 


While the Airport Projects Fund provides a unique opportunity to remedy environmental damages and enhance the economic vitality of the area, there are many resources available to reduce air and noise pollution, and make the barren Landing Lights fields into a beautiful addition to our community and city. The following is a list of potential project funding sources:

  • Airport Lease Development Fund ($100,000,000 over 5 years)
  • General Fund ($4 billion airport revenue over lease period)
  • Parks Department Capital and Expense Budgets
  • Greenstreets
  • Airport Improvement Fund (noise abatement)
  • Council Members
  • Community Board 3
  • Grants

The project will have the strong support from the surrounding community as evidenced by the 40 + residents attending a Junuary 2006 Community Board 3 Parks Committee meeting at Our Lady of Fatima: When appraised of the Airport Fund opportunity they pleaded, “Please lead us, let us know how to do it.”


The resident drawing above was submitted at the January Our Lady of Fatima meeting as a vision of how one of the eight park sections might be developed. Others at the meeting urged "Don't forget to do something in front of my house." 

 Landing Lights Area Development Project 

Residents, businesses, and organizations will support and benefit from this effort. Already the North Queens Homeowners Association and Jackson Heights Neighborhood Association have indicated their support the idea. Vaughn College indicated it would like to see the park as an extension of its campus.


 Ad Hoc Landing Lights Park Area Improvement Committee


It has been proposed that Community Board 3 create an Ad Hoc Landing Lights Area Improvement Committee to work with community residents on a community improvements plan. And that such plan should seek Airport Capital and other funds in support of the commuity effort.


The Ad Hoc Committee's first task would be to engage local stakeholders in developing the improvement plan. Stakeholders are to include, community residents, civic organizations, institutions, businesses, the community board, and elected representatives. This stakeholder group would consider improvements to include, but not limited to, actions that improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, improve traffic and parking, and park features.


Many Community Board 3 committees would have a hand in the plan's design, providing member expertise and drawing on community residents and resources.

  • Airport  
    • Determine the extent of existing federal funds available for noise reduction and how they may be applied to community needs. A Port Authority representative stated that the Phase 1 uses of federal noise reduction funds - for school windows - was nearly completed and the community must set a new priority.
    • The committee must assure that the Airport Lease Fund is not substituted for this, or other ongoing federal commitments.
    • Track the status of the allocation of the Airport Lease Fund.
    • Attend meetings related to the Airport Lease Fund. 
  • Business Development – With the Airport Lease Fund dedicated to capital projects, the committee must highlight the project’s capital aspects and engage businesses and institutions in the effort. The committee might suggest ways to present the improvement plan through an economic lens: how it helps Vaughn College recruit students; how it increases home values; how it improves the value of adjacent industrial and commercial land. All viewed through an economic development lens.  
  • Capital & Expense Budget – A Landing Lights Improvement Project can call upon funds from a variety of sources: Airport Lease Fund ($100,000,000 over 5 years); General Fund ($4 billion airport revenue over lease period); Parks Department Capital and Expense Budgets; Greenstreets; Council Members; Community Board 3; Grants; and other sources.
  • Education – The recruitment of schools and students as garden developers might provide one avenue for school involvement.
  • Health & Social Services – Noise and air pollution are persistent and detrimental to our community. Noise and pollution make the adjacent M1 area less valuable for development as well as devaluing area homes. Air quality remains a top priority on Board 3's annual Budget Priorities List.
  • Housing – This is high on the mayors list and perhaps might have a role to play. Some park parcels might be used for housing with land swapped for other park land.
  • Landmarks – Review if there are any facilities worthy of landmark consideration. Check historic maps to learn about the foundation remnants in the park. 
  • Land Use Review – Review the areas land use (R4 and M1) to determine if any changes are imminent or advisable.
  • Parks & Recreation – Park improvements are one key deliverable that might arise from the effort. The Parks Committee's key role would be to engage the community in imagining the park they's like to see and selecting park features and designs to meet the dream.
  • Public Safety – How can we incorporate the latest thinking into park safety, both from crime prevention and safe activity perspectives? What relationships with the neighbors and police department should be developed? Is there technology that might facilitate a safe park? How do you install a bench that promotes community rather than roudy behavior?
  • Environment / Sanitation – Air and noise pollution are significant community concerns. What type of trees would reduce noise and air pollution? Where should they be placed? Can more trees be placed along Grand Central PARKway? What noise reduction programs and technologies can be included?
  • Technology Advisory – The project’s design, development, and presentation to the various funders can be significantly enhanced using advanced presentation technology. In particular, the web and provide leading edge access, organizing, and presentation capabilities that can stand out vs. other fund seekers. See Democracy Island on for a preliminary view of the project’s presentation potential.
  • Traffic &Transportation – Parking issues are of great concern to the community. What signage issues, street direction, speed humps, and closings are desired and possible? Street trees along Grand Central PARKway will be a focus of this committee. Also, the Greenstreets can be directed to portions of the effort.
  • Youth Services Planning – Our community’s youth can become more familiar with the workings of their government through engagement in this project. The Landing Lights Park design process on can provide them with a familiarity with the modeling and construction process enabled by that technology. 

Such a broad community engagement would offer many benefits:

  • Enhance quality of life of the neighborhood's residents.
  • Create a better business environment.
  • Make adjacent M1 zone areas more developable for human scale usages.
  • Improve Vaughn College campus.
  • Provide an opportunity for community and community board members to work together.
  • Demonstrate to the community the key role the board can play. 
  • Increase the value of homes in the area.

A community plan of this sort enables residents, developers, local businesses, and institutions creating the plan to say, "We agree on this plan. You can bank on it." This offers several benefits:

  • It enables local homeowners to say to prospective buyers, "Here's what the commuity will look like in the future."
  • It enables developers to made sound decisions about investing in the area, knowing that a proposal that fits within a community plan will likely pass community review processes. 
  • It enables the community's elected representatives to invest in projects that are part of the plan, knowing that residents have deemed them appropriate.   

Park Model on New York Law School's Democracy Island

One of the resources available for planning improvements is a 3D model of the park that was created on Democracy Island. New York Law School purchased the "Island" in the virtual word, and has made it available to Community Board 3 to help the local community better envision the possibilities. The following links relate to the 3D model on Democracy Island.

Landing Lights Park Documents

The following clips are from City Planning Commission and Community Board 3 documents on Landing Lights Park.

From CITY PLANNING COMMISSION - March 10, 2004/Calendar No. 33 C 040191 PPQ

IN THE MATTER OF an application submitted by the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the Economic Development Corporation, pursuant to Section 197-c of New York City Charter, for the disposition to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey of city-owned properties located at John F. Kennedy and La Guardia Airports, restricted to airport uses and uses ancillary thereto, Community Districts 1, 3, 7, 10, 12, 13, and 14, Borough of Queens.


There are eight (8) sites known as the landing lights property located with C.B. #3. Currently, the Department of Parks is responsible for maintenance. The Port Authority is asked to provide funds to Parks Department to cover the expenses for maintaining said property and upgrade these sites by planting trees and installing benches for public use."

From Community Board 3's January 15 2004 monthly meeting report.

"ULURP 040191 PPQ – An application to extend Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s lease to operate LaGuardia and J.F.K. Airports until 2050.

With a non-conforming vote of 12 in favor, and 1 abstention, the Board recommends approval for the renewal of the lease agreement to allow the Port Authority to operate LaGuardia and J.F.K. Airports until 2050 with the following conditions:

- Airport Board – The City’s appointees to the Airport Board should include: (a) The Borough President; (b) Boards directly affected by the airports and elected officials.

- 50 Million Dollars – The funds that will be allocated by the Port Authority be directed to Capital Projects for the (7) seven Community Boards that are directly impacted by the airports. In addition, all projects will be subject to the review and approval of the Queens Borough Board annually.

- Terms of the Lease Agreement – The lease agreement must be reviewed for an increase, a minimum of every five years to address inflation and other expenses that may occur over the next 50 years.

- Landing Lights Property – There are eight (8) sites known as the landing lights property located with C.B. Board #3. Currently the Department of Parks is responsible for maintenance. The Port Authority is asked to provide funds to Parks Department to cover the expenses for maintaining said property and upgrade these sites by planting trees and installing benches for public use.

- Audit Report of Environmental Conditions – Port Authority provide an audit report on water, air and land conditions in the communities that are directly impacted by the airports – an annual environmental quality review.

- Black Cars – Request Port Authority has greater involvement in getting the black cars off of residential streets and into airport parking.

- Master Plan – Port Authority provide the master plan for the development of LaGuardia Airport.

- Noise – Port Authority continues to work towards reducing noise pollution."

To Do / Notes / Keep in Mind

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