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Aug 27, 2014 10:33 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Tensions Soar at East Hampton Airport Noise Meeting on Wednesday

Sep 2, 2014 5:10 PM

Nearly 400 residents from East Hampton Town, Southampton Town, Shelter Island, and the North Fork came to the LTV Headquarters on Wednesday night to air out their frustrations regarding noise from the East Hampton Airport. They claimed that a significant increase in traffic has left them sleepless, fed up, and begging for a change.

The meeting, held by the East Hampton Town Board, was organized to supplement its regular board meeting last Thursday out of fear that the polarizing issue would draw a crowd too large for Town Hall, and the number of comments from the public would be too much for a regular board meeting with other hearings being held.

Community members, as well as town and state officials, headed to the microphone over the span of three hours, demanding the town refuse grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and make the airport financially self-sustaining as a solution to their “diminishing quality of life” and homes that now feel “like Vietnam during the war.”

“Plan to operate as a self-sustaining enterprise and refuse to seek any FAA money,” said Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, reading from the town’s recent resolution asking East Hampton Town to not opt for any more funding from the FAA.

The airport is in a unique position this year as assurances from some FAA grants are due to expire at the end of the year, said Councilwoman and airport liaison Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. Previously, the conditions of the grants did not allow for the town to regulate when and how many aircrafts could land at the airport. Without these assurances, town official say they can impose restrictions on traffic while still operating a financially healthy and safe airport.

According to town records, helicopter traffic at the airport had jumped 40 percent this past summer, while overall traffic from jets and other aircrafts had gone up 20 percent.

“The reason we moved to Shelter Island was for the peace and quiet,” said resident Joseph Messing at the hearing. “It’s a beautiful thing. But the dramatic increase … no one had to tell us there was a 40-percent increase. We heard it. We felt it.”

The issue of the noise complaint telephone hotline and online register was another hot-button subject for residents, many of whom say they are tired of calling “a robot” to complain with essentially no outcome.

A total of 18,454 complaints both online and by phone have been lodged since January, said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell. But the number, some residents said, is not an accurate representation of how often they are disturbed.

“I had to quit making phone calls,” said Thomas Maguire, a Cutchogue resident, stating that he made 43 phone calls to the noise complaint hotline in one day. “Every time I pick up the phone, I just get angry. My wife thinks I’m nuts. She finds me outside in the yard yelling at helicopters. I can’t call anymore, and many of my neighbors on the North Fork and in other places feel the same way, but that does not diminish the discontent we have.”

In addition to refusing FAA grants, some residents suggested the town could redirect aircraft traffic to the Montauk airport, which could offer pilots the option to fly solely over water given the hamlet’s location.

“There is an airport in Montauk and it is underused,” said Patricia Hope, a long-time East Hampton resident and former president of the East Hampton School Board. “You could take a good hard look, at least at East Hampton helicopters who could land in Montauk and take a nice limousine ride to where they’re going to visit, and that would be wonderful for us.”

Others suggested closing the airport entirely, stating the board should “shut it up or shut it down,” but Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the town can’t just “simply close the airport.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the board would take into consideration all of the comments made throughout the meeting, adding that there was no deadline for the board to make a decision on whether or not to accept FAA grants.

“We’re not going to make one for the sake of making a decision,” she said. “We’ll be working with other airports, the federal government, and affected homeowners to find workable solution.”

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Vox Populi

Pax et bonum


By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Aug 28, 14 11:16 AM
The long term goal of airport opponents has always, ALWAYS been to seek closure of the airport. It's well and good for residents of other towns to encourage East Hampton to turn down FAA grant money for maintenance of the airport, but are they willing to help meet the shortfall? East Hampton only HAS one working runway--it has not been politically possible in all the years since the repaving of 10-28 in 2000 to get approval for repaving 4-22. The stated hope of those who blocked application for ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Aug 28, 14 12:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
You making false accusations. The goal is NOT to close the airport but to implement a curfew (currently aircraft comes and goes at will at all hours of the day or night) and is no longer for recreational purposes but for profit. We do not wish to see our once local airport that was up-graded to a "regional" airport along with the air tower to help control the increase in traffic, become what Curtiss-Wright (where I was taught to fly) and Hyannis/Barnstable (where my family members reside) have ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 6:29 PM
You can drop the pretense about not wanting to close the airport. Your QSC group and the airport opponents expressly made your goal clear at the meeting:
It is time for you (pilots) to leave - P. Currie (QSC)
Ban all aircraft, not just helicopters - S. Levine (QSC/architect)
Only way to stop the torture is to close the airport - F. Dalene (QSC/land developer and builder)
Close the airport and convert it into an industrial complex - P. Wolf (land developer)
Close the airport ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Aug 29, 14 1:51 PM
The effort to close the airport is longstanding and well documented, however well-disguised it may be as a 'community improvement movement,' and however many may have been duped by this ploy and convinced to join in. The airport was constructed as a WPA project during the Depression to provide local jobs, and stimulate the economy. The air control tower was built to increase safety and modernize an aging infrastructure, not in response to an increase in traffic. Many who complain about airport ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Sep 3, 14 11:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Noise from heli is terrible!They should fly over water but from Gabreski they fly striaght to East Hampton over houses.Sometimes I see thinks inside house shaking this is not normal.They have to SHUT DOWN helicopters at LEAST!
By dany (33), Water Mill on Aug 28, 14 1:36 PM
Last night was nothing short of a modern day lynching of all pilots of little prop Cessnas to jets. The crowd vindictively called pilots a myriad of nasty names and raucously applauded those who advocated full closure of the airport. Only anti-airport proponents were allowed to speak - pilots were not given a chance to address the Board. Ironically, as a local pilot I agree that some restrictions can be made on helicopter traffic to reduce their noise impact on the area, and would be willing to ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 2:09 PM
Your comments are totally misleading and false.
Not one person called any pilot a "nasty" name. Every person who wished to speak signed up to do so. NOT one person/pilot did so. The meeting lasted until the last person who had signed up spoke. The entire meeting was nearly 4 hours long. The list of people who wished to address the Town Board were called aloud by name to come to the microphone. Did you, a local pilot, sign up to speak? If so, we would have heard you. Why didn't you? The ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 6:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
Reasonable people have been trying to work with Airport advocates all along and have been railroaded by the likes of Brundige, Stanzione, Twomey et al. Finally there exists a Town Board who cares less about profit and convenience for out of towers than peace and quiet for thousands below.

And the lies from Jeff Smith of the Eastern Regional Helicopter Association continue. Mark these words: if the airport does ever close it will not be from deterioration. It will be from the arrogance ...more
By Amelia Airport (48), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 9:05 PM
You are the one who is trying to deny facts which are in a recorded session. We were called amoral, liars, greedy, corrupt, and dangerous cowboys who made it their goal to terrify little children. One woman, perhaps you, even gleefully talked about shooting us out of the sky with a gun. I did sign up to speak but was advised by a board representative to reconsider because of the hostile atmosphere. You would not have heard me. You would have attacked me like a pack if rabid wolves. Us local pilots ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 11:24 PM
This place has been overexploited, oversexed, and overpopulated for well over a decade.

I remember peace and quiet thirty years ago during the summer. The new sounds of summer are sirens wailing, honking horns, helicopters, and jets. Call someplace "paradise", and kiss it goodbye...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 29, 14 2:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
The purpose of the meeting was to express opinions and offer possible solutions about Airport noise. What on earth might you have added? You like it? You are for it? You don't care who it bothers?
We need it? You are entitled to make it? It isn't really that bad? No wait: you would have gone with your old favorite: you shouldn't have bought near the airport. You should have given it a shot. What if you had stood up and said something like: "I feel your pain. I am a pilot and I want to do something ...more
By Amelia Airport (48), East Hampton on Aug 29, 14 7:49 PM
The airport should remain open, accept grants and be used to it's full potential. C'mon folks, it's 2014!! And yes I do know what it is like to live near an airport..I lived in the flight path for the air base in Westhampton. Those were jets flying a lot lower and a lot noisier than helicopters.
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Aug 28, 14 5:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's not about "living near an airport". Helicopters crawl across the skies and linger as they do, prolonging the noise assault. Commuter taxi service of helicopters to and from the city is non-stop and the people on the North Fork and Shelter Island and Southampton are rightfully upset by this invasion and barrage of aircraft noise. To ruin the water/land/wildlife so people can make it to the Hamptons in record time is not sound planning for the future. You don't have to "live near an airport" ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 6:39 PM
3 members liked this comment
fair points indeed! but my mind wandered for a moment & I thought you were talking about land developers !!

lets be really efficient and all at once control the flight density , the housing development density AND the monstrous industrial green energy complex for a few miles offshore!
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 2, 14 5:32 PM
Unclear to me in the years-long controversy about the airport is the answer to one question, "Can East Hampton forbid the use of the airport to helicopters alone?" If the answer to this question is "Yes", then the solution seems obvious. Some commercial interests will suffer as a result but in exchange for the quiet enjoyment of their homes by thousands of residents, the loss of business by the few seems equitable.

It further seems that the EH Town Board is indifferent to the suffering ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 28, 14 8:15 PM
Helicopters will then begin landing at private residences and in farm fields. If you think you will prevent helicopters from coming to the east end by "banning" them from the airport (which you probably can't do anyway) you're mistaken. Do you have any idea how much money is backing that industry?
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 29, 14 9:17 AM
Gee, I guess it's really NOT just a few people who live near the airport!
I was there and nobody was not permitted to speak. If airport advocates chose not to speak it's most likely because they had nothing to say in the face of the facts that have come out over the past few years. They are simply flat out of factual arguments. Banning helicopters would be a good start. Banning all commercial operations (SEAPLANES) would be just about right.

You go Town Board!
By Amelia Airport (48), East Hampton on Aug 28, 14 9:11 PM
Helo industry Hubris precedeth a fall, as it has underestimated the collective will of the people which, badgered by noise into galvanic action, has now reached a critical mass.

Industry litigation will be met with an overwhelming and startling blaze of populist uprising, the seeds of which are firmly planted and now germinating to sprout vibrant above the ground.

Industry wants a battle? You're on . . .

We the people collectively have sufficient resource, attorneys, ...more
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Aug 29, 14 5:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Helicopters ARE the problem. And despite the accusations and counter-accusations among the comments above, the East Hampton Aviation Association and anti-noise advocates are working together to try to find a solution. Do they agree on everything? No. But they are working cooperatively, and no-one is accusing the other side of trying to close the airport or open it up to a greater onslaught of air traffic. Jim Brundige has made the best if a difficult situation that he couldn't control with very ...more
By PAW47 (10), East Hampton on Aug 29, 14 9:12 AM
Helicopters are not the airport's only noise problem. Another is caused by jets flying too low over houses miles away from the airport's landing strip. Having it happen regularly during the daytime is bad enough, but having it go on all night long is unacceptable as it interrupts sleep.

Not allowing jets to fly low over the South Fork at any time would be a huge improvement. Most pilots stay high, but too many fly at low altitudes for long distances over our houses, making Water Mill and ...more
By oystercatcher (126), southampton on Aug 29, 14 10:57 AM
Sec. 91.119 — Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle ...more
By PAW47 (10), East Hampton on Aug 29, 14 11:35 AM
Shut down the airport and sell the property to developers that will provide affordable housing, shopping center, etc. etc. that will contribute revenues and benefits to the community way beyond what this airport has to offer to the few. Let them sit t in traffic like everyone else. Use Montauk airport to accommodate
local pilots and prohibit commercial aviation. Built better train service might be a solution. A high speed ferry another. And my personal favorite the Riverhead to Montauk and ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Aug 29, 14 1:40 PM
Use Montauk airport to accommodate
local pilots and prohibit commercial aviation.

Montauk Airport is for sale... increase in traffic at the airport would result in increased traffic in Montauk. Yea, that will make people happy...
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 29, 14 2:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
".. sell the property to developers that will provide affordable housing, shopping center, etc. etc. that will contribute revenues and benefits to the community .." very funny .. except I think you might be serious .. this idea literally makes me sick.
sure bring us a mega mini mall so thy don't build a mega mini mall in Tuckahoe ..more starbucks & 7-11s, bigger art museums, more vinyl sided high rise luxury retirement developments with an affordable housing ??
develop every ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 3, 14 8:05 AM