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Sep 7, 2010 5:40 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Critics respond to airport plan

Sep 7, 2010 5:40 PM

Airport critics stepped up to the podium at last Thursday’s East Hampton Town Board meeting to express their anger that the town’s Airport Master Plan doesn’t cover airport noise sufficiently. They also took exception to the town’s intention to present the plan’s airport layout to the Federal Aviation Administration and continue to accept FAA money to run the airport for the next 20 years.

Accepting FAA money would mean that the town would have to follow FAA rules in running the airport. Critics said the loss of local control over the airport would mean the inability to set curfews and to create a schedule for take-offs and landings to reduce noise levels.

After the comments, the board nonetheless adopted the plan by a 3-0 margin. The three Republican members of the board, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who is the board’s liaison to the airport, were the only members present. Absent were Democrats Councilwoman Julia Prince and Councilman Pete Hammerle, who was on vacation.

The airport master plan was last updated in 1989.

Pat Trunzo, a Wainscott builder and former Town Board member, said he opposed the use of FAA money. He stated in a prepared statement that he read at the meeting, “Once again the Town Board is planning to extend for 20 years FAA control over East Hampton Airport, abandoning the powers that the board has to control noise at its own airport. Once again, this Town Board is planning to do so without ever disclosing to the public the benefits of the alternative of controlling airport access based on noise.”

Patricia Currie of Sag Harbor said adoption of the master plan was irresponsible.

“The noise goes on day and night. Using FAA money means allowing the airport to be used for private use. The airport is supposed to serve local people. What you’re saying is not reasonable. Shame on you.”

The master plan, which calls for a no-growth policy at the airport, calls for repaving and reopening runway 4-22, which has been closed because it is in disrepair. The plan also calls for closing runway 16-34 and turning it into a taxiway. The main runway, 10-28, would remain unchanged.

The plan also calls for installing a seasonal air traffic control “tower” that would likely be housed in a portable building and limited development that would allow commercial enterprises to buy and use some of the land around the airport.

Airport Manager Jim Brundige has maintained that the master plan isn’t supposed to be a noise elimination plan but more of a facilities document. “We deal with noise on a daily basis,” he said in a recent interview.

At Thursday’s meeting, Frank Dalene, a long-time critic of the airport and its noise, described his family as “tormented and tortured” by the noise of helicopters. His house is near the airport and he claims to have 300 videos of helicopters swooping down over his house.

In a separate interview, Mr. Dalene took issue with Mr. Stanzione, saying, he “told me he absolutely is going to take FAA money for airport improvements. That means 17 to 18 years of East Hampton taxpayer sacrifice down the tubes. It means 20 more years of federal government regulations and mandates and no enforcement. What a stupid idea it is to take FAA money. How can noise not be part of the plan? Isn’t that the only thing the folks are complaining about?”

One group is not complaining. Local pilots have generally called for the adoption of the airport master plan. Tom Lavinio, president of the East Hampton Pilots Association, has said the plan is solid.

Springs pilot Harold Levy, who lives on Gerard Drive, said the master plan will reduce noise, not make it worse. One reason for that is the call for a seasonal control tower, he said.

“This master plan is for the good of the community and for the good of the airport. It’s not a plan for expansion and it will improve the safety of the airport. Not that the airport isn’t safe now, but there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “And hopefully the tower will improve the noise.”

Helicopter noise is the biggest complaint of critics of the plan, however.

The FAA has studied the problem of helicopter noise with state and local officials on Long Island and come up with a proposal to require helicopters to steer clear of Long Island’s North Shore.

The FAA’s proposal to require helicopter operators to use the N.Y. North Shore Long Island route (NYNSR) generated nearly 1,000 comments. Because the agency has to review and address each comment before issuing a final rule, the FAA will not be able to issue a final rule before the end of this summer, according to Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the FAA.

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, said, “I’d like to see this FAA rule route the helicopters out over water the longest possible time,” he said. “I’d like to route them around Orient Point and keep them over Peconic Bay. And we want helicopters to maintain an altitude of 2,500 to 3,000 feet for the longest possible time. I also want there to be a southern route that approaches East Hampton and Westhampton.”

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Please, for the love of our community, I beg you to please adopt the ideas of Mr.Bishop in regard to helicopter routing. I can no longer have a conversation in my backyard on Friday or Sunday nights and the plates rattle in our cupboard. Often we get 3-4 helicopters in a row over a 2-3 minute time frame. We literally have to stop what we're doing until the persistent traffic subsides. Sounds like i'm whining, but it really is awful. I'd shoot them down personally if I thought I wouldn't get caught. ...more
By HarborDad (37), Sag Harbor on Sep 8, 10 12:46 PM
The Bishop-Schummer plan does benefit those living along LI's North Shore by requiring helos to fly further offshore; but it does NOTHING for us. They will still fly similar routes out here as they approach and leave the airport; they will still be an uncontrolled bunch of air jockeys flying at will. It contains NO NOISE ABATEMENT solution for the East End. The EH Town GEIS contains NO NOISE ABATEMENT solution either. I hope that there is a requirement that they fly far offshore completely around ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 11, 10 7:08 AM
Here's a radial idea...close the airport and sell the land for development. Use the money to paydown the Town's debt, fund the underfunded pensions, rebuild the roads and hire a limo service to drive those few airport users from Westhampton airport to the Hamptons is Grand style. Think outside the box.

While the town is reviewing its "Master Plan" close and sell the Montauk airport before a real tragedy occurs.
By voter (33), Amagansett on Sep 8, 10 2:25 PM
4 members liked this comment
The Montauk airport is privately owned!
Selling someone else's private property is a RADICAL idea. Good luck with that!
By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Sep 10, 10 12:18 PM
Good for you "voter". Iv'e been advocating a sale of the airport for the past 2 years (even in these pages last week) and your the only one to pick up on that radical idea. If not sell, downsize. If not that privatize. If not that lease. Thats the plans of the present town board for everything else in town so why not the airport? Likely political connections but certainly FAA requirements. The town took $ from the feds before and the requirements of that handout resulted in an airport that serves ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Sep 8, 10 3:35 PM
3 members liked this comment
Yes, please SELL THE AIRPORT. The constant barrage of noise is insane.
We have airplanes, jets and helicopters flying over and around our house constantly. The "Master Plan" is a joke............unfortunately one being played on us local year-round resident taxpayers.
We no longer have the use of our own property.
I agree with Ms. Currie, who when attending the meeting, said "Shame on you."
Yes, everyone involved in "protecting the noise" seems to be morally bankrupt.
What ...more
By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on Sep 8, 10 3:58 PM
2 members liked this comment
Does anyone have a serious idea about a "next step" that might be productive to ending the Noise Beast of East Hampton ? Appealing to the common sense of EH and SH Boards was a joke; attending the meeting this article is about was a wasted effort - the Republican members of the EH Board rubber stamped their approval to seek the FAA money. Once done, our fate is sealed for the next 20 years and will be living with a larger and more obnoxious Noise Beast than you've seen so far. Count on it.
PLEASE ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 8, 10 5:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yeah, let's close all the airports and ban flying. Please. East Hamtpon Airport is just fine. You buy a house near an airport, what do you expect?
By Dayo (33), Sag Harbor on Sep 9, 10 8:30 AM
Let em fly over your hose, jockey!
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 12:57 PM
West of the canal, we fought hard to bring attention to the need for noise control. There was virtually no consideration given to the impact increased aviation activities was having on area residents and plans were being made to expand airport use that would have led to the destruction of the fragile eco-system and ruined our quality of life. We did it the old fashioned way, formed a civic association, mobilized the community, packed hearing rooms, demanded an audience, got the message to the ...more
By usuallyquietonquiogue (10), Westhampton Beach on Sep 9, 10 9:22 AM
3 members liked this comment
Really Dayo? You can't imagine how buying a home 15 years ago, 6 miles away from an airport might be an extremely different situation now then it was back then, or even 10 years ago? I have no statistics to base this on, but I would bet money that the amout of helicopter traffic out of the East Hampton airport has increased in excess of 400% in that time period.
By HarborDad (37), Sag Harbor on Sep 9, 10 12:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
I've lived in Wainscott full time for over 23 years. The airport has been there since the thirties. I knew it was there when I bought my house.
Has traffic increased at the airport - YES.
Has traffic increased on Montauk highway in the summer - to the point that we can NEVER make a left onto the highway and the ambulance sirens are constantly blaring because the summer dirvers are playing bumper cars on the highway and everywhere else in Town - YES .
So I propose that we close ...more
By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Sep 10, 10 12:31 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 12:58 PM
How much is the budget for the airport (including repairs) and how much comes from the FAA? It's hard to understand this story and the passions it elicits without any idea of what the bill is for running the airport independently. Could Katy Gurley or her editor please post that information on these blogs or append to online article?
By hellolotte (5), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 1:21 PM
My understanding is the annual budget is about 3mil. for saleries, normal maintainance, utilities, insurance, and anything else incured by a "business". Even though there is an income any loss is covered by the tax payer. The FAA has monies avaliable for nearly anything except operating expense. So when the decision was made to accomadate greater intensity of use it was discovered the airport needed to be upgraded. The town board at that time couldn't politically justify burdening the tax payer ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Sep 10, 10 2:43 PM
Thanks for the data! My understanding is the airport is cash positive in it's operation. The serious deficiency in what the Board HAS APPROVED is that they ignored ALL of the suggestions of their own noise abatement committee. I believe that we are doomed to ever increasing helicopter, jet and plane noise. So sad the such a small Board ( 3 people present at voting) might destroy the tranquility of the East End for the next 20 years. Equally sad is the complacency of Southampton Town and it's Supervisor ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 3:59 PM
Thank you kindly for the info.
By hellolotte (5), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 5:53 PM
I'd give anything to live in East Hampton. The ocean, the beaches, the weather..etc.
Why worry about a little airport noise. You should learn to fly. It's fun and then you might appreciate the aircraft noise more.
By ross (2), Shelter Island on Sep 10, 10 3:30 PM
Ross - count your blessings that you don't live under the active flyway of the commercial helicopters! You are indeed lucky; but if the FAA does give the requested millions to the EH Airport, perhaps the route will be varied to include a path over your house. We are ALL going to be impacted even more than now. It is not a little noise - it's a horrible blade hammering at all hours of the day and night. I live a full 4.5 miles from the airport; and yes, years ago it was "a little airport noise" ...more
By SagHarborBob (91), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 10 3:52 PM
Forget Bishop and Schumer as part of the solution, they and their donors are ON those helicopters. When the old $$ talks adage doesn't fit any longer, the helicopters will be moved. Until then, $$ talks, thus, you and your neighbors in your back yard will not.
By Sparkibew (28), southampton on Sep 12, 10 8:13 AM
Judy Hope and Tom Twoomey giving three Republicans a standing ovation for the Town airport master plan. Remarkable.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Sep 13, 10 6:33 PM
Yeah Hope and her husband doing what they did is remarkable. It seems even heros and "nobility" succomb to selfishness. I guess there realy isn"t any hope left in this town. Fact
By facts man (148), east hampton on Sep 14, 10 2:53 PM
Wow,Ross, thanks for the suggestion we learn to fly a plane. Then we can fly over YOUR house at all hours of the day and night.
Why don't you come stay in Sag Harbor over a summer weekend and hear our
"little noise problem"?
And Dayo, would you by any chance be a PILOT??

By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on Sep 15, 10 3:29 PM