Helicopter Noise at an Unbearable All-Time High, According to Sag Harbor CAC

Posted on 23 July 2014

By Mara Certic

Helicopter noise dominated the discussion at the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee meeting last week.

Southampton Town Councilwomen Bridget Fleming and Christine Scalera attracted a small crowd of non-members to the CAC’s monthly meeting on Friday, July 18, in the Pierson High School Library.

Susan Baran, a member of the CAC, announced as she briskly walked into the meeting: “This is the worst day ever.” The helicopter noise over by Long Pond had started at 6 a.m. that morning and hadn’t stopped all day, she said. Those in the room agreed with Ms. Barren that it was “the worst it had ever been.”

Rosemary Caruso added that the “all-white helicopters are the worst,” and that she and her husband see them all the time from their North Haven home.

Bob Malafronte and Barry Holden explained the current situation with helicopter routes and answered questions. Both men are members of the CAC and are the only two Southampton representatives on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee. Mr. Malafronte explained that East Hampton has two airport advisory committees. One of the committees is made up of helicopter and airplane proponents, he said, and is “misleading at best.” The other committee that both Mr. Malafronte and Mr. Holden sit on and which is composed of those concerned with noise issues speaks “nothing but facts and the truth,” he said.

The current problem is exacerbated by the total lack of restrictions at the airport, Mr. Malafronte said. Pilots do not follow the designated routes, he said, adding that 83 percent of the helicopters that flew in and out of East Hampton Airport over July Fourth weekend did not comply with the altitude restrictions.

The two men said that they are in the minority on the committee. “We had to force our way on,” said Mr. Malafronte. He even suggested that airport manager Jim Brundige was “targeting” Southampton Town residents. “This man Brundige has to go,” he said.

Councilwoman Scalera interjected to tell the members of the CAC that they were “very, very, very well represented” by their two Southampton reps. “Without you behind us,” Mr. Malafronte said to her, “we’d be nowhere.”

Mr. Holden said that the new East Hampton Town Board does actually seem to want to solve the problem caused by helicopter noise, unlike the previous administration. He mentioned that East Hampton Town Board member Kathee Burke-Gonzalez sits on both airport advisory committees, and Councilwoman Scalera sits on the noise abatement committee, too.

Recently, the men said, the committees have been working on letter-writing campaigns. They emphasized the importance of documenting complaints about helicopter and aircraft noise, by calling the complaint hotline or writing letters to the editor in local papers.

Their new focus, however, “is to go after the FAA not just to ask for changes but to start demanding answers.” Mr. Malafronte said. “We’re going to focus on Huerta, the man has to produce answers.”

Michael Huerta is the administrator of the FAA, who Mr. Malafronte says “has been hiding.” Mr. Malafronte’s new tactic, he said, is to go after Mr. Huerta “more aggressively.”

A meeting with Congressman Tim Bishop scheduled to take place on August 12 is the next big step, he said. The committee members hope to have at least a representative from the FAA, if not Mr. Huerta himself, present to answer questions.

The meeting will take place at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center  at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12.

To register an airport noise complaint call 1-800-376-4817 or visit planenoise.com/khto/

Issues of dumping on Town Line Road continue to trouble members of the Sag Harbor CAC. Several members discussed the problems, mentioning that tires and have piled up and that some people have even gone as far as to dump their mattresses there. “They go out of their way to dump there,” said CAC member Steve Schuman.

“What’s the solution, besides setting up snipers in the woods?” asked CAC member Judah Mahay. He suggested that the CAC look into the feasibility of setting up security cameras, or even looking into getting police to do surveillance at the site once a month.

“If you report it to the public, this could be enough to mitigate it,” he said.

 

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7 Responses to “Helicopter Noise at an Unbearable All-Time High, According to Sag Harbor CAC”

  1. paul t says:

    Maybe you could put the old mattresses and tires on the roofs of the home of people who complain about the helicopter noise to damper the sound (especially the white ones…). This would solve both problems.

  2. john seymore says:

    If this were my greatest problem in life I would be so happy the men in white helicopters would have to come for me!

  3. bob m says:

    May be you two, paul t and john, would volunteer to have the route moved to your neighborhood?

  4. gerry s says:

    Change the route to over the ocean then north over Georgica Pond. This will accomplish the following:
    1. It will disturb the least number of people
    2. It will disturb the people most likely to be using the airport
    3. The people it will disturb carry enough clout that they will get the flights reduced

  5. paul t says:

    Bob m
    They fly over my house in sag harbor all the time – helicopters, and jets. I love to look directly down on my house as i fly over. It makes me so happy to get to the east end. Clearly so do many others…

    No thanks on the trash dumping though. I agree that is a problem.

  6. Ken Dorph says:

    Gerry S has suggested the correct solution (I am also sending similar to Sag Harbor Express):

    The most logical route would be due south over Georgica Pond then over the ocean. This would indeed affect the fewest homes. However, in the East Hampton Airport Master Plan, this route was squelched since it would be over ‘high value real estate’ (see the quote below). Instead, the helicopters fly over the more numerous but lower value real estate of Noyac and Sag Harbor, and especially Azurest and Ninevah, our traditionally African-American neighborhoods.

    This is a classic example of the dumping of an environmental externality, produced by a more powerful group (helicopter pilots and passengers) over a less powerful group. This is a common practice throughout the world and growing especially common in the US as power concentrates in the 1% who dominate our political economy.

    Our mass transit is pathetic: It takes three hours for a train to go a hundred miles (European and Asian friends think I am joking). At the same time our roads can never accommodate the traffic that the untrammeled development has generated. And so those who can afford it fly over the fray, spilling their noise onto the hoi polloi below.

    One solution would be to henceforth forbid helicopters at the airport (this can be down) while allowing individual homes to put in their own helipads. That would at least put the noise in the neighborhoods where the passengers live and would create a neighbor to neighbor discussion. They will realize that, unlike leaf-blowers, helicopters are exempt from noise regulations under FAA guidelines (which of course are written by pilots and their lobbies).

    Better would be for Southampton to initiate a dumping lawsuit against East Hampton Town. This dumping has been going on, and progressively getting worse, since the mid-1990s – with no solution. East Hampton keeps suggesting ‘voluntary’ guidelines which the helicopter pilots routinely ignore. The airport was expressly put at East Hampton’s far west border to dump the noise out of their voting area. But the Southampton Town majority has, in our twenty years here, never shown any kind of serious leadership on this issue or any other transportation issue, being too cozy with real estate developers and their lobbies. Don’t forget to vote at your next election – it is one option that we have left.

    Hats off to the Quiet Skies Coalition of East Hampton (www.quietskiescoalition.org) and Barry Holden and friends of Noyac for all their efforts: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/helicopter-noise-problem. May they bring back some peace and quiet to our summer skies.

    This below from the East Hampton Master Plan – Chapter IV, Introduction:

    One approach and departure corridor was found to be substantially better than the existing routes. This approach/departure path would branch off from the offshore helicopter route. On approach, helicopters would over-fly Georgica Pond and thence over the currently undeveloped land adjacent to the Runway 34 threshold and then land in the terminal area. This is the minimum sound track, avoids overflight of areas in Southampton, and adds little if any flying distance and flight time. It would, however, expose residents in this area of high value real estate to much greater noise levels than currently exist.

  7. Feeling Outraged says:

    I live in a quiet, private, serene and peaceful environment bordered on one one side by the Sag Harbor Bay and the other by the Linda Gronlund Memorial Nature Preserve.

    Some of the aircraft/helicopters are now flying within several hundred feet directly above property minutes apart. Can’t hear, can’t talk the house is vibrating not to mention what this is doing to the wildlife in the Nature Preserve. The amount of pure and absolute disruption that this “new” commercial air-traffic invasion has instilled on this community is outrageous and unacceptable.

    This air traffic is out of control and destroying this beautiful, peaceful, bucolic, serene neighborhood.

    This is now a typical day and this log by no means represents “ALL” of the air traffic passing overhead, but only a portion)

    AIRCRAFT NOISE COMPLAINT LOG: JULY 18th, 2014

    7:02am unknown (sleep disturbance)
    7:25am helicopter (off course, sleep disturbance)
    8:05am helicopter (off course, low flying)
    8:56am helicopter
    10:01am helicopter
    10:58am helicopter
    11:02am jet
    11:09am prop
    11:27am jet (flying way, way too low)
    11:40am twin engine plane
    11:48am helicopter
    11:52am prop
    11:58am helicopter (flying too low)
    12;21pm twin engine plane (flying too low)
    12:39pm prop
    12:42pm unknown
    12;55pm unknown
    12:58pm twin engine plane
    1:02pm helicopter
    1:15pm helicopter
    1:20pm twin engine plane (low flying)
    1:22pm twin engine plane (low flying)
    2:42pm twin engine plane (low flying)
    2:49pm helicopter
    2:51pm helicopter (flying way way too low)
    3:03pm unknown
    3:28pm unknown
    3:36pm unknown
    3:40pm helicopter
    4:06pm unknown
    4:10pm helicopter (flying too low)
    4:16pm helicopter (flying too low)
    4:25pm prop
    4:46pm helicopter
    5:07pm unknown
    5:13pm unknown
    5:20pm helicopter
    5:25pm helicopter
    5:31pm helicopter
    5:39pm helicopter (off course, flying too low)
    5:54pm helicopter (flying too low)
    6:06pm unknown
    6:07pm helicopter
    6:10pm unknown
    6:37pm helicopter
    6:43pm helicopter
    6:54pm helicopter
    7:23pm helicopter
    7:29pm unknown
    7:51pm helicopter
    9:05pm helicopter (flying too low, sleep disturbance))
    10:06pm helicopter (flying too low, sleep disturbance)

    AIRCRAFT NOISE COMPLAINT LOG: JULY, 11TH 2014

    5:20AM helicopter (too early, sleep disturbance)
    1:04PM helicopter
    1:14PM helicopter
    1:29PM helicopter
    1:35PM helicopter
    1:43PM helicopter
    2:03PM Jet (off course, very low)
    2:06PM helicopter
    2:08PM helicopter (off course)
    2:35PM helicopter (off course)
    3:08PM helicopter (off course + too low)
    3:36PM helicopter
    3:43PM helicopter
    4:06PM helicopter
    4:18PM helicopter
    5:00PM helicopter
    5:13PM helicopter
    5:15PM helicopter
    5:18PM helicopter
    5:24PM helicopter
    5:43PM helicopter(off course)
    6:01PM helicopter(off course and flying low)
    6:04PM helicopter
    6:07PM helicopter
    6:23PM seaplane
    6:28PM helicopter
    6:40PM helicopter
    6:41PM helicopter
    6:48PM jet
    6:49PM helicopter (off course)
    6:57PM helicopter
    7:01PM helicopter
    7:10PM helicopter
    8:28PM helicopter
    8:38PM helicopter

    AIRCRAFT NOISE COMPLAINT LOG: JULY, 13TH 2014

    9:57am helicopter
    11:21am helicopter
    2:25pm helicopter
    2:26pm helicopter (too low!)
    2:30pm unknown
    2:41pm unknown (flying very low)
    3:16pm helicopter
    3:19pm helicopter
    3:44pm helicopter
    3:49pm helicopter (way way too low-I have this helicopter on video)
    4:33pm helicopter (too low)
    4:41pm helicopter
    5:14pm helicopter (way way too low and off course)
    5:23PM helicopter (way way too low)
    5:51pm helicopter
    6:02pm helicopter (too low)
    6:04pm unknown (loud, low flying, house vibrating)
    6:08pm seaplane (vey low flying 800′)
    6:16pm helicopter
    6:29pm helicopter (very very low flying)
    6:32pm helicopter (very very low flying)
    6:38pm helicopter (off course)
    6:42pm helicopter
    6:57pm helicopter
    7:05pm helicopter
    7:27pm helicopter
    9:00pm helicopter


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