Towns Talk Airport Noise as Protests Continue

Posted on 05 September 2012

On Monday evening, Julia Friedman decided to have a dinner party at her home in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Noyac. She invited a handful of friends over, but Friedman’s spaghetti with clam sauce would not be the only aspect of the evening that would awe her guests.Between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., Friedman and her guests counted over 20 helicopters and jets flying near her home, drowning out the dinner conversation that had naturally turned to the increase in air traffic the Friedman family and others in Noyac say they have experienced this summer season.

“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.”

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3 Responses to “Towns Talk Airport Noise as Protests Continue”

  1. Jim Matthews says:

    This discussion of equitability assumes that it is fair for some to have to endure to the noise made by others. Searching for a formula to distribute the noise is a distraction from the real issue of fairness, which how to reduce the noise made by aircraft so that people who don’t make noise don’t have to listen to those who do. Now we all make noise, and some noise is part of life, but the noisemakers at our airport have long since gone beyond the point of fairness to those below. It’s the first responsibility of government to find a fair restriction of noise, not to find a way to spread the annoyance.

  2. Patrice Dalton says:

    I am puzzled by Peter Van Scoyac’s comment about the users’ destination. There is already a helicopter pad in Southampton so ostensibly many Southampton users would use that one. Why not analyze the data before making a statement like that? The Southampton Town board has never accepted FAA money and is able to establish controls such as curfews. With all due respect, the East Hampton Town Board could benefit from Southampton’s experience.

  3. Barry Holden says:

    The East Hampton officials need to take back control of their airport. The way to do that is to stop taking grant money from the FAA. They then need to stop the noise, now. The public groundswell has been impressive. Our petition at: http://signon.org/sign/helicopter-noise-problem now has over 500 signers and counting. This movement to stop the noise will not stop and will continue to grow until either the noise is stopped or the East Hampton Board is removed from office.
    Barry Holden
    Concerned Citizens


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