As the Memorial Day weekend —Â the unofficial start of the summer season — bears down on local residents, the fear of helicopters and low flying planes buzzing and rumbling overhead is once again on the minds of Noyac residents. Members of the Noyac Civic Council got the opportunity on Tuesday night to view a film made by Gene Polito that hopes to raise awareness of the problem, and that would be distributed to local government officials and other civic groups as well.
The film opens with scenes of pastoral life in the hamlet, a couple walking along the beach, lapping waves and the gentle call of birds; but soon is interrupted by the jarring sound of choppers and jets.
A narrator announces that in these private planes there are generally only one or two passengers.
The scene quickly cuts to an East Hampton Town Board meeting where a parade of residents —Â many from Noyac —Â offer a litany of complaints about the noise the town’s airport is responsible for.
One woman on the film tells the board she was awakened by the rumble of helicopters that reminded her of a scene from “Apocalypse Now.” Several residents asked the board how they could allow something that was a benefit for so few, yet disturb so many.
After the half hour film ran its course, Bill Riley, who is the civic council’s liaison for airport issues, said it was important for people who are disturbed by the noise to make their concerns known by calling 537-LOUD, a dedicated line set up by the airport to take complaints. Riley told the members of the civic council they needed to note what time and day the flights passed over.
“It’s outrageous we’re being held hostage by our phones,” said Nancy Neumann. “Is there no other way?”
“Other than throwing rocks at them, there’s not much else you can do,” replied Riley.
He encouraged residents to make the calls, saying the log of calls has pressured the authorities into making some changes.
Planes, for example, no longer enter the airport solely over Noyac, he said. A second path puts them over the ocean and over Georgica Pond; although he did concede that only about 25% of the flights use this path.
“We’ve gotten the attention of the congressman and the town board,” said Riley; “but to them it’s not a big problem — they don’t live here. It’s our problem.”
The council also had the opportunity to meet two of the candidates for the Sag Harbor board of education. While incumbent board members Theresa Samot and Dan Hartnett were unavailable, council members had the chance to ask candidates May Anne Miller and John Daniels a few questions.
Both candidates agreed they would run the school as a business, with Miller, who is co-owner with her husband of JCP Landscaping, adding that, while she would pursue competitive prices and estimates, the business of education can not be run like a landscaping company.
Both were asked what they value about the district and what they would like to see changed.
Daniels said he valued the children, and noted that two of his own graduated Pierson. He said he would like to change “the waste of money that’s up there,” and “get to a hardball budget and stick to it.”
Miller said she valued the small, intimate size of the district, which affords teachers the opportunity to get to know the students more personally. She said she would like to see more cooperative work between all the local school districts to get better economies.
Asked how they would encourage academic excellence, Daniels identified the Career Academy at Bridgehampton and two advanced placement classes that he would like to see Pierson students share in. Miller said she would encourage more AP classes if there was evidence that the students were excelling, and added she would advocate for an evaluation of the elementary school curriculum.
Both were asked to identify their strengths. Miller said she truly understood the community, saying “I have my finger on the pulse.”
Daniels, retired as head of buildings and grounds at Bridgehampton School, said his strength was understanding the physical plant., and his ability to bring a lot to the table.
Finally, council president Chuck Neuman opened the floor to any questions the members may have: they would meet with the town to clean up around Trout Pond; and to try to improve the mud problem at the Old Noyac School House.
“Where’s our new community center,” one woman asked.
“Nothing new to report,” Neuman sighed. “We’re told it will happen sometime in the 2011 time frame.”