A Commentary and letter sent to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., from a group of Winooksi residents; Via VTDigger, Jun 11, 2019
We, the undersigned families and individuals, live in Winooski and many of us have at least one young child in our homes. We are writing to urge you to reconsider your support for basing the F-35s at the Burlington International Airport.
THIS IS A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE.
You have dedicated your career to social justice issues and assert that you represent the common person, rather than the wealthy elite. Your website states that your presidential aspiration is to “achieve economic, racial, social and environmental justice for all.” Please demonstrate your commitment to that goal.
You advocated for the F-35 jets to be based at the Burlington International Airport and they are on target to arrive this fall. With the slated arrival of the F-35s came a new noise exposure map that was publicly released at the end of May that incorporates the anticipated increase in noise due to the F-35 jets. According to the recently released map, the total number of dwelling units exposed to average noise levels of more than 65 decibels will rise from 819 in 2015 to an estimated 2,640 in 2023, with the total population affected rising from 1,900 in 2015 to 6,125 in 2023. The federal government considers areas with an average noise of more than 65 decibels “unsuitable for residential use.” Half of the homes in Winooski will be in the noise zone of more than 65 decibels.
At community meetings, not one person from the airport, consulting firms, or Air National Guard could fully answer the question troubling each parent: How will this jet noise impact my family? We desperately want to know the long-term effects of repeatedly exposing our children to jet noise and the environmental consequences of these jets. Like most Vermonters, we love to be outside and enjoy our beautiful state, but can we even sit on our porches or visit the playground during take-off? Should we bring ear protection to the park? Should the children of Winooski wear headphones during soccer practice if the F-35s are flying above the field, or stop games to put their hands over their ears? All parents, regardless of class or race, want a safe and healthy place to raise our children, and we trusted our elected members of Congress to represent the best interests of our families. You, Senator Leahy, and Congressman Welch have failed to do that.