For Rybak, a long fight pays off, as noise-area residents wait to hear if they'll qualify for noise-dampening improvements.
R.T. Rybak recalled the day back in 1992 when his wife, Megan O'Hara, got angry about airport noise and urged him to get involved in the fight against it.
Rybak became a leading noise activist, and the issue helped deliver him to the mayor's office in Minneapolis. This week, Mayor Rybak helped deliver to his noise constituency.
The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 Tuesday to adopt an airport noise settlement that city lawyers estimate will provide $127.6 million in noise-muffling work for residents of Minneapolis and nearby suburbs.
Later Tuesday, the Eagan and Richfield city councils also voted unanimously to accept the settlement, which still needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration by Nov. 30, as well as the approval of Hennepin County District Court.
Rybak and several Minneapolis City Council members -- most notably Scott Benson and Sandra Colvin Roy -- got the city to sue the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) after it cut back on noise insulation promises.
"I got into this issue because I thought it was wrong, and there were promises made that were not kept," a jubilant Rybak said after signing the council action.
City leaders acknowledged the settlement doesn't get the full sound insulation package that already has been installed in the homes exposed to the most serious airport noise.
But they said the payout is more than quadruple the $28 million the Airports Commission was willing to pay in 2004 when it throttled back its insulating plans.
City leaders also said holding out for a judicial ruling and appeals would have posed a longer delay and more risks.
Minneapolis homeowners overwhelmed the Airports Commission's website Tuesday trying to find out if their property qualifies for the noise-proofing aid. The commission said late Tuesday that the site isn't as specific as mapping information it will provide later.
Only an estimated 432 homes will get the full noise package out of an estimated 9,561 covered by the settlement. Full-package homes get measures designed to reduce indoor noise from planes by more than half.
More than half of qualifying homes would get either central air conditioning and $4,000 worth of added work, or $14,000 in work if they already have central air.
Ironically, Rybak won't qualify for noise insulation because he lives about five blocks too far west. Benson's home was insulated in an earlier phase. Colvin Roy said her house qualifies for the smallest category of work under the deal.
Where a house falls in terms of noise-dampening help will depend on a computer model that projected in 2002 how much noise a house might be exposed to in 2007. The model averages flights, types of planes and flight patterns expected for a given area in 24 hours, counting night flights heavier than day operations.
The commission's website (www.macnoise.com/maps) roughly maps a home's weighted decibel average when a particular address is plugged in. Homes must be on blocks touching the 60- to 64-decibel average to get insulation.
A separate city website (http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/airportnoise/contour-maps.asp) shows which Minneapolis homes meet the minimum standard for settlement aid of 60-decibel average exposure. The city and the Airports Commission plan to meet this week to fine-tune the eligibility map.
Settlement is 'awesome'