Tag Archive | "Dominick Stanzione"

Split East Hampton Town Board Adopts Airport Capital Improvement Plan

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board adopted a capital improvement plan for the East Hampton Airport during a work session Tuesday — a roadmap for $5.26 million in repairs and improvements consultants suggest be made to airport facilities over the course of the next five years.

Originally, the capital improvement plan (CIP) — unveiled just before a November 21 public hearing on the proposals — called for $10.45 million in airport repairs and projects over a five-year period. The adopted CIP was cut to $5.26 million with 15 proposed projects removed from the plan as they were not a part of the town board approved Airport Master Plan or Airport Layout Plan, both of which were vetted through environmental review.

The CIP was approved by the outgoing Republican majority of the town board. Airport liaison Dominick Stanzione, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted in support of the plan, with Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc voting against adopting the CIP.

East Hampton Airport manager Jim Brundige said the CIP is meant to highlight what projects are necessary at the airport. Quigley also noted that approving the CIP does not mean the board is approving any of the projects laid out in plan, or how has made a decision about how they will be funded. Rather she called the approval a “first step” in moving towards improvements at the airport first identified in the town’s airport master plan.

However, both Overby and Van Scoyoc expressed concerns about a footnote in the document that references Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. The CIP, according to testimony given by town aviation consultant Dennis Yap at the November 21 public hearing on the plan, will be submitted to the FAA. Van Scoyoc said he was concerned submitting the plan to the FAA was the first step towards securing additional grants from that agency for airport projects.

“It’s not a necessary step for us to send it to the FAA unless we are pursuing funding from the FAA,” he said.

For several years now, a number of residents and members of the Quiet Skies Coalition have encouraged the town board not to accept FAA funding as they believe when grant assurances expire in December of 2014 the town has the ability to gain greater control of the airport, including the potential to impose curfews or restrict certain aircraft.

East Hampton Approves Seasonal Control Tower

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At an East Hampton Town Board meeting last Thursday, April 5 board members unanimously approved a resolution for the construction of a portable control tower for the East Hampton Airport.

The cost of the project, estimated to be about $360,000, would be paid for by the appropriate airport budget account.  In other words, funds generated by the airport, which by law must be used for the airport, according to East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione.

The seasonal control tower is a type II action, which means the board didn’t formally have to seek a SEQRA report before approving construction. However, due to the importance of the subject matter, Stanzione requested an environmental review, prepared by the town, which he presented at a work session last week.

He said in an interview this week that he hoped the tower—which would only take about one month to construct—would be up and running by the beginning of the summer season, May 31.

The control tower would be staffed by an air-traffic controller provided by Robinson Aviation out of New Haven, CT, a company which, Stanzione pointed out, is approved by the FAA.

For Stanzione, the control tower is an important step toward decreasing the amount of noise produced by aircraft flying into the East Hampton Airport in Wainscott.

Most of the noise, he said at last week’s work session, “is caused by 10 percent of the users of the airport, who don’t observe our voluntary regulations.”

These regulations include restricting flight times between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., as well as making sure all aircraft maintains an altitude of 2,500 feet for as long as possible before touching down in East Hampton.

Stanzione said the control tower would help achieve higher levels of compliance among all aircrafts. With the control tower, he argued, the town would go “from an already outstanding 90 percent compliance—thanks to airport management—to an outstanding 100 percent using the federal regulations of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration].”

While Quiet Skies Coalition member Kathy Cunningham said she supported the idea of installing a control tower in East Hampton, she’s still on the fence about whether or not the move will successfully limit noise.

“We’ve never been against the control tower in theory,” she said on behalf of the Quiet Skies Coalition at a work session last Tuesday, April 10. “We just don’t know what it will do.”

The Quiet Skies Coalition is a group of concerned residents from across the East End, which formed last summer in opposition to the town accepting money from the FAA.  While the town’s FAA contract will expire in 2014, should it accept more FAA funding before then, that partnership would extend at least into 2020.

The Quiet Skies Coalition feels East Hampton Town would be able to better regulate aircrafts with it’s own rules and regulations, without adhering to what the FAA deems permissible.

Simply put, she continued, “It’s untested. To be fair, you don’t really know what the results [of implementing a seasonal control tower] are going to be,” she added. “After this summer we’ll know.”

East Hampton Budget Adds More Funding for Project MOST

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On Thursday night, the East Hampton Town Board swiftly adopted its 2012 budget after increasing its contingency account by $20,000. According to town budget officer Len Bernard, that change in the spending plan was meant to increase funding to the after-school program Project MOST, although the current town board did not earmark the money specifically for the organization.

“I think that was done in an effort to give some of the new town board members some latitude in how much funding they give to Project MOST when they take office after the first of the year,” said Bernard on Monday morning. “They could actually take more out of the contingency account than $20,000 if they wanted to.”

Earlier this month, Democratic candidates Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc were elected to serve on the town board. They join Republican board members Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley. The supervisor’s race between incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and his challenger Zachary Cohen remains too close to call.

Parents, teachers and community members implored the town board to increase Project MOST’s funding at the town’s only public hearing on the budget on November 10.

Project MOST is a not-for-profit organization that provides after-school care and education to close to 300 students at The Springs School and in the East Hampton School District. In Supervisor Wilkinson’s preliminary budget, the town proposed to maintain its current level of funding for the organization at $10,000.

Facing an increase in the number of students, and parents, who rely on the after-school programming, as well as the fact that grant opportunities are contingent on town and school district support, the organization asked the town to increase its funding to $60,000 annually.

After Thursday night’s adoption of the budget, it appears the organization is halfway to its goal, now expected to receive at least $30,000 in financial support from the Town of East Hampton.

The final $65,731,372 adopted budget raises spending by just over 2.5 percent, although taxes will be reduced significantly in the villages within the Town of East Hampton. Residents outside of the incorporated villages will see a less than one-percent decrease, according to Bernard.

According to Supervisor Wilkinson’s original budget message, the increase in town spending is primarily due to a rise in the cost of employee benefits and, in part, to begin paying off the $27.3 million debt left by the previous administration.

In order to cut spending, Supervisor Wilkinson said he has “restructured” town government by merging departments and streamlining them, allowing employees to serve several functions within the town. Supervisor Wilkinson has also said discontinuation of the leaf pick-up program coupled with the closing of the town’s Recycling Center on Wednesdays has resulted in $700,000 in annual savings.

The budget also includes the sale of East Hampton Town’s portion of The Poxabogue Golf Center. The board agreed to sell its portion of the golf center to Southampton Town for $2.2 million earlier this fall. In addition to that revenue, Supervisor Wilkinson said he expects the town to collect an additional $200,000 from Southampton Town for golf center revenues it is owed for the last year.

Since the budget was presented to the town board, outside of the $20,000 placed in the contingency account for Project MOST, the board also increased $35,000 for the town’s Office of Housing and Community Development funding. Director Tom Ruhle reported he expects a smaller portion of funding from Section 8 housing administrative fees in 2012 and would need more financial support to run his department.

After a computer error, Bernard said the board also added about $60,000 to the budget to cover the cost of the town’s planning board.

According to Bernard, in the villages of Sag Harbor and East Hampton, residents can expect to see a 9.17-percent decrease in their taxes. For a home with a market value of $900,000, Bernard said that would result in a $79 savings. For residents living outside the villages, Bernard said the tax decrease was “minimal” and would result in less than $1 a year in savings.

Stanzione Says Report Shows Economic Benefits of Airport

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For many years, and certainly this political season, the benefits and detriments
of the growing East Hampton Airport has resulted in lively discussion. However,
according to East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, one issue
that should not be up for debate is whether or not the airport is a significant
contributor to the town’s overall economy.
Last week, Stanzione put out a press release detailing a report issued by the
New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in May that details the
economic impact the airport has on the region.
According to the report — NYS Economic Impacts of Aviation issued by
Joan McDonald, Commissioner of the NYSDOT — concluded that the airport is
responsible, indirectly and directly, for the creation of 91 local jobs and brings
$12.6 million into the local economy.
The study was meant to detail the economic impacts over 80 airports in
the state have on their regions. It concluded the Wainscott-based airport was
responsible for the creation of 65 jobs, with another 26 jobs created indirectly by
the airport and the businesses its infrastructure supports. The income generated
by that employment totals $5,812,800, according to the report.
In total, when taking into account expenditures at the airport and at businesses
outside the airport, the report concludes the airport brings in $12,806,100
annually throughout the East Hampton economy.
Stanzione described the report’s conclusion as “important evidence of the
economic contribution our airport makes to every taxpayer in our community.”
“There are few, if any, other economic enterprises that can compete with that
performance,” he added.
The release comes on the heels of the recent approval by the Federal Aviation
Administration of the town’s Airport Layout Plan (ALP), which Stanzione
maintains will allow the town to gain greater control over its airspace by installing
a seasonal control tower, staffed by town-paid air traffic controllers.

For many years, and certainly this political season, the benefits and detriments of the growing East Hampton Airport has resulted in lively discussion. However, according to East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, one issue that should not be up for debate is whether or not the airport is a significant contributor to the town’s overall economy.

Last week, Stanzione put out a press release detailing a report issued by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in May that details the economic impact the airport has on the region.

According to the report — NYS Economic Impacts of Aviation issued by Joan McDonald, Commissioner of the NYSDOT — concluded that the airport is responsible, indirectly and directly, for the creation of 91 local jobs and brings $12.6 million into the local economy.

The study was meant to detail the economic impacts over 80 airports in the state have on their regions. It concluded the Wainscott-based airport was responsible for the creation of 65 jobs, with another 26 jobs created indirectly by the airport and the businesses its infrastructure supports. The income generated by that employment totals $5,812,800, according to the report.

In total, when taking into account expenditures at the airport and at businesses outside the airport, the report concludes the airport brings in $12,806,100 annually throughout the East Hampton economy.

Stanzione described the report’s conclusion as “important evidence of the economic contribution our airport makes to every taxpayer in our community.”

“There are few, if any, other economic enterprises that can compete with that performance,” he added.

The release comes on the heels of the recent approval by the Federal Aviation Administration of the town’s Airport Layout Plan (ALP), which Stanzione maintains will allow the town to gain greater control over its airspace by installing a seasonal control tower, staffed by town-paid air traffic controllers


New Coalition Seeks to Limit Aircraft Noise

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By Claire Walla

In the height of the summer season, when many of the city’s Hamptons-bound denizens take to the skies to circumvent traffic, local discontent over noisy aircraft tends to bubble to the surface.

Two weeks ago, these sentiments coalesced in the form of a new organization called The Quiet Skies Coalition (QSC).

“The amount of traffic using the airport uncontrolled is mind-boggling,” said QSC member Bob Wolfram, a resident of Carlisle Lane in Sag Harbor.

He pointed to the very first QSC meeting to illustrate his point. When founding members of the grass-roots coalition were gathered in QSC Chairman Barry Raebeck’s backyard (a two-minute drive from the airport), Wolfram said he counted precisely 12 small planes, five jets and two helicopters, all of which flew over the property in the course of the two-hour meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon.

“We had to stop talking when they flew over,” he said.

While local efforts have voiced strong opinions against aircraft noise for years, Raebeck said this coalition (which already has about 140 members) represents a stronger, more far-reaching alliance, all united under the notion that airplanes and helicopters “are an aural and visual blight to the East End,” Raebeck explained. “They are for the benefit of a wealthy few, at the expanse of everyone else.”

East Hampton Town has currently set recommended restrictions on airplane travel between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. And it encourages planes and helicopters to travel no lower that 2,500 feet for as long as possible before reaching the East Hampton tarmac.

“They have recommendations, but no one is enforcing them,” Raebeck continued.

For members of the Quiet Skies Coalition, many problems with the airport stem from the fact that the town has collected grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which in effect bars the town from regulating any of these restrictions. “The town has abdicated all responsibility. [The East Hampton Airport] is legally and technically an ‘uncontrolled airport,’” Raebeck said.

Airport manager Jim Brundige confirmed that airport regulation is in the hands of the FAA, which forbids the town from limiting access to the airport, even imposing time restrictions. The town accepted money from the FAA as recently as 2001 for minor repairs like repaving, Brundige explained. And because FAA grants carry a stipulation that binds airports to federal aviation regulations for a 20-year period, this means East Hampton Town must adhere to FAA rules through 2021.

Congressman Tim Bishop — who has been involved with efforts to regulate helicopter noise on the East End — said the town will have to decide, once the 20-year period is up, whether or not to continue receiving grant money.

“If they don’t, then the obligation would fall to the tax payers of East Hampton,” he explained.

In general, Bishop said FAA regulations are reasonable. However, “I don’t want to say aircraft noise needs to be reduced, but it needs to be regulated in some way.”

According to East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, that’s exactly what he, as the airport liaison, has been working on for the past year.

“Helicopter traffic is a regional problem that starts in Manhattan,” Stanzione explained. Along with elected officials in Southold, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southampton, he said he’s reestablished the town’s relationship with the FAA to establish a southern route to the airport. (He said the town would officially announce the new route in the next couple of weeks.) Stanzione estimated this would cut traffic over the northern communities down by about 60 percent.

“We call it burden-sharing,” he added.

Stanzione also said the town is working with the FAA to get permission to place a seasonal control tower at the airport, as well.

“If we have permission to install this seasonal control tower, then we will have effective control in and around East Hampton,” he said. In the end, he added, “I suspect the town’s new relationship with the FAA will provide helpful improvements with noise management, and provide the best possible solutions for our neighbors.”

But the QSC is calling for more than just an additional southern route. Airplanes and helicopters, the group contends, carry more burden that noise pollution. They are also hazardous to the environment.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” QSC member Bob Wolfram continued. “The East End of Long Island is a beautiful place. [Little pieces] get chipped away over time,” he admitted. “But the growth of the airport has taken a big hunk out of our quality of life.”