By Amy Patton
In a room packed with Noyac residents at the Bridgehampton Community Center Tuesday night, the mood at the Noyac Civic Council’s (NCC) monthly meeting was decidedly hostile. Citizens bombarded Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera with queries regarding official actions they hope will be taken to control airport noise in the area.
The source of the aggravation is air traffic — particularly low-flying helicopters —using East Hampton Airport on a flight path that takes them over Jessup’s Neck on their way to and from Long Island Sound. It’s been a continual annoyance, many residents say, since early summer and an unacceptable burden of noise pollution from the sky.
“It’s certainly more than we’ve had in previous years,” noted Randy Ackerman, who said that the disturbances from aircraft seemed to accelerate over the summer months.
Ackerman, a member of the Noyac Civic Council who has lived on Tredwell Lane with her husband, Gary, for 10 years, added that her street receives a hefty bulk of the daily air traffic burden.
“When they fly over, the windows vibrate and our dog jumps up,” said Ackerman. “We were out in the garden over the past weekend and we could barely hear our conversation.”
Ackerman said that she and her fellow civic council members hope to work on “sharing the burden” of air traffic with residents of East Hampton through a “south shore route” flight path.
“It’s a safety issue as well,” chimed in Elena Loreto, president of the NCC. “With the amount of air traffic traveling over the Noyac area alone, there have been several near-misses of helicopters in the air.”
East Hampton’s airport, she said, “was built originally to serve local recreational pilots. It wasn’t designed to take on this heavy burden of commercial traffic that is impacting local neighborhoods this way.”
Supervisor Throne-Holst spent much of the evening trying to soothe the concerns of the residents, who have had ongoing complaints about aircraft noise. She added that Southampton Town is working on solutions based on the deluge of reports that have been received in the past 10 months from homeowners.
To that end, she added that a meeting will take place Monday, September 17, at Southampton Town Hall to address noise concerns “and find solutions.“ In addition to Throne-Holst and Scalera, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airport management team of East Hampton and representatives from the pilot’s association will be in attendance at that meeting which, she said, is not open to the public.
Another hot-button issue raised at Tuesday’s NCC meeting was the town’s proposed “traffic-calming” plan which has been designed to slow vehicles on Noyac Road in front of two of the halmet’s commercially-zoned properties — Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone General Store.
A raised median separating the commercial lot from the roadway and complete re-construction of Noyac Road (including the addition of a center island) has been proposed by Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor. The plan comes with a reported price tag of $480,000 and it drew vocal ire from a majority of attendees at Tuesday’s meeting.
Most of those who spoke railed against the proposal and agreed that “small steps” are needed instead to slow down traffic in the area. These include devices such as rumble strips, pedestrian crosswalks where drivers are mandated by state law to stop, and even, as a partial solution for traffic calming, blinking yellow “slow” or red traffic lights.
Tom Gustin, who shares a home with his wife in the Pine Neck section of Noyac near Cromer’s and the Whalebone, said traffic and quality of life in that area would be negatively affected by the plan.
“We don’t want it,” he said, to the applause of others in attendance.