East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione vowed on Tuesday that East Hampton Airport Manager Jim Brundige “is willing to roll up his sleeves and help reduce the air traffic over Jessup’s Neck.”
Stanzione was expected to join Brundige, and a group of government officials including Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty, as well as Quiet Skies Coalition (QSC) Chair Kathy Cunningham and Eastern Regional Helicopter Council (ERHC) Chair Jeff Smith later that afternoon to discuss options to provide residents of Southampton Town relief from helicopter noise. Last year, a second northern route into the East Hampton Airport over Northwest Creek was eliminated, meaning the Jessup’s Neck route became the sole northern entry and exit point for helicopter traffic.
At a Tuesday morning work session, Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee member Bob Malafronte questioned the safety of the one route into the airport, noting two pilots raised the issue at the ERHC’s annual Long Island Fly Neighborly kick off meeting on March 19.
QSC vice chairman Charles Ehren raised the issue of a public hearing scheduled on the “permanent installation of an Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) that will be operational on a seasonal basis at East Hampton Airport,” according to a notice announcing the hearing on May 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the airport.
Ehren said he believed the board agreed to a temporary, and seasonal, air traffic tower that it would study before making the tower permanent.
Both Stanzione and town attorney John Jilnicki said the FAA is requiring the town board to complete an environmental assessment of having a permanent, yet seasonal, tower at the airport, but that the town board could choose not to fund the tower if it decides to shut it down.
Stanzione added he was attending a meeting later that afternoon, and an additional route would be considered. Despite Supervisor Bill Wilkinson pushing Stanzione to address a route change to give Southampton residents some relief, Stanzione said he was open to the idea but not in a position to make a public recommendation. That power, he said, traditionally lay in Brundige’s hands.
He added the pilots have to agree, as any routes into the airport are voluntary.
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he believes not just routing but a larger discussion about how to create “meaningful restrictions” at the airport is necessary before residents will feel any relief from airport noise.
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley questioned whether Stanzione should be representing the board at the meeting, as she does not believe he represents the full board’s opinions.
Smith said generally a noise abatement program does come from the airport manager, and the association looks at it to see if it is technically possible. If it is, he said they comply.
“If you want us to fly five different routes then provide us with those five routes and we will see if we can technically do it,” he said, adding for the 2013 season he needs direction immediately.
Stanzione did say there was an alternate route being assessed by the airport manager, which would fly over Northwest and the Sag Harbor Golf Course before landing at the airport.