“I don’t mind having some of the noise but should we have to deal with almost all of it,” asked an exasperated Friedman on Tuesday morning. “It was just one after the other and then another and then another.”
On Tuesday, September 4, the East Hampton Town Board discussed this perceived inequality many residents of Southampton have been railing about for most of the summer — since it was announced a Jessup’s Neck route was the sole helicopter route being suggested for those flying into East Hampton Airport from Long Island Sound.
On Tuesday, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he understood this concern and had informed Southampton Town it was by no means the intention of his town board to place the burden of airport noise solely on the shoulders of Southampton residents.
Supervisor Wilkinson mentioned a September 10 meeting, during which it has been proposed that town supervisors and board members from both East Hampton and Southampton would meet with Federal Aviation Association (FAA) representatives, airport managers, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Congressman Tim Bishop, among others, to talk about ensuring airport noise is fairly dispersed and not targeted around one community.
According to a representative with Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office, that September 10 meeting has been cancelled but will be rescheduled shortly.
However, on Tuesday, airport liaison and East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said the multi-town noise advisory committee, made up of elected officials from the five East End towns, as well as airport managers and FAA officials, would meet soon to discuss the issue.
“We have invited the FAA to come in with some of their mapping people to take a close look at the options with adjustments of tweaks to the power line route being used by helicopter pilots,” said Stanzione.
However, Stanzione said that ultimately, after meeting with FAA officials last week, it was clear that helicopter pilots do have a “high level of flexibility when it comes to traversing the skies, not only here on Long Island but across the United States.” He added that voluntary agreements between pilots and air traffic control professionals on preferential routes are the most viable solution given that flexibility.
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he believed the board should research both the demographics of who is using the airport and also where people are ultimately going, to ensure a fair distribution is, in fact, fair.
“If 60 percent of the helicopter users are ultimately going into Southampton that should play into the discussion about how to make things equitable,” he said.
Agreeing that was a good suggestion, Stanzione added that ultimately aviation needed to be a discussion that revolved around safety first and foremost.
“So what we deal with from a technical and expert level is what is safe,” said Stanzione. “What is fair may not be safe, so we have to be aware of that.”
“I am just really looking for an understanding of who our airport serves,” said Van Scoyoc. “Does it serve residents or people who come from out of town. And I am not just talking about helicopter traffic, I am talking about jets.”