Tag Archive | "east hampton airport"

East Hampton Airport Supporters Blast Noise Study

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Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. addressed the town board and the public at the presentation of the Phase 1 Noise Analysis Interim Report on Thursday morning. 

By Mara Certic

The analysts studying the aircraft noise problem at East Hampton Airport presented the first stage of their noise study last Thursday. They said what many airport critics have claimed in the past few years: The vast majority of helicopter pilots are not complying with voluntary noise abatement procedures, and the number of instances in which noise exceeds the recommended limits is astronomically high.

In response, the Friends of the East Hampton Airport sent out a letter on Wednesday, November 5, calling on the Suffolk County comptroller to conduct a thorough review of the $60,000 of public funds that were used to conduct this study.

The town’s aviation attorney, Peter Kirsch, and analysts Les Blomberg, Henry Young and Peter Wadsworth presented the Phase 1 Noise Analysis Interim Report on East Hampton Airport to the East Hampton Town Board and the public on the morning of Thursday, October 30.

“This is the kind of process that usually goes on very quietly,” Mr. Kirsch said, explaining the town board has been adamant about involving the community and seeking public comment at every opportunity.

Using a plethora tools and graphs, Mr. Blomberg, of Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, showed the board and a group of concerned citizens how different factors contribute to the noise problem on the East End. The noise problem is at its worst during summer months, with operations and complaints peaking on Friday and Sunday evenings and early Monday mornings.

When trying to determine the rate of helicopter compliance with the voluntary noise abatement routes, Mr. Blomberg first found that he did not have the data for approximately 40 percent of helicopter flights.

Without that missing data, Mr. Blomberg found that overall only 15.3 percent of helicopter pilots comply with height restrictions and the voluntary noise abatement routes. Of those arriving over Georgica Pond, 37.7 percent comply with voluntary procedures, he said, but that is by far the highest rate of compliance. Only 1.9 percent of those departing over Jessup’s Neck in Noyac are complying with the voluntary measures, and just 3.9 percent of helicopters leaving over Barcelona Point east of Sag Harbor are following those guidelines.

The Friends of East Hampton Airport called the study “wildly misleading and inaccurate” in a release accompanying a letter to Supervisor Larry Cantwell. According to the airport supporters, the compliance data presented on Thursday is “entirely incorrect” and claimed the town’s records show higher levels of compliance.

Mr. Blomberg identified every parcel within 10 miles of the airport and then, using the noise criteria from the East Hampton Town Code, determined every time an aircraft caused a noise “exceedance” for each property — the number of times each parcel experiences a noise impact over the limit.

Using this model, Mr. Blomberg found that in 2013, properties within 10 miles of the airport were affected by aircraft noise that measured above town code levels a total of 31.8 million times. This comes down to noise exceeding the daytime limit of 65 decibels 16.7 million times, and going over 50 decibels between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. 15.1 million times.

“There was no operation that did not exceed the noise ordinance at some point,” Mr. Blomberg said, but added the “rattle” effect of helicopters draws more attention to their noise, and is often found to be more annoying.

The Friends of the East Hampton Airport criticized the analysts for using this data, claiming, “this inflammatory data purported to show millions of “exceedances” of the town’s noise ordinance.  There is no community in the United States that bases aviation noise restrictions on such measures because federal law has preempted the regulation of aviation noise.”

The letter also said the use of data from 2013 rather than 2014 is “intentionally misleading, and at the very least, it shows that the Noise Study’s results are hopelessly flawed and unusable.”

Supervisor Cantwell on Wednesday said the decision to use last year’s data was because “the analysis has been ongoing and the 2014 year is not complete. The consultants chose one full complete year of data and that was 2013.”

Mr. Wadsworth, the only volunteer analyst, conducted a study of the noise complaints. From January to September of this year, air traffic control showed there were 22,350 flight operations in and out of the airport. In the same period of time there have been 22,700 complaints. The vast majority of those complaints were for helicopter operations, which only account for one third of all aircraft operations.

By looking at where each complaint came from, Mr. Wadsworth determined most airport noise complaints come from the Town of Southampton. At 23 percent, most of the complaints came from Noyac, followed by Sag Harbor at 17 percent, Shelter Island at 15 percent and the North Fork at 13 percent. Another 12.5 percent of all complaints come from the East Hampton side of Sag Harbor, he said.

The analysis of complaints also angered the Friends of the East Hampton Airport, who said the data was meaningless unless the number of complainants, and how many times each person complained was included.

Mr. Wadsworth’s study did not include the number of times each person called, but page six of his presentation was dedicated to a graph showing the number of households per town that filed complaints.

The Friends of the East Hampton Airport said the data was unreliable also because it doesn’t “mention anywhere that the town ran ads asking people to call in.”

“Of course, when people want to make a complaint we want to make that system available to them,” Supervisor Cantwell said on Wednesday. “And when we have a complaint line we like to make people aware of it.”

One of the most common grievances of those troubled by aircraft noise is the lengthy and difficulty complaint process. In recent meetings, residents from East Hampton, Southampton and even the North Fork have said they have “given up” calling the complaint hotline.

“It’s hardly surprising to me that the Friends of the East Hampton Airport would be critical of what we’re trying to do,” Mr. Cantwell said, but added: “We’re always happy to have the suggestions and recommendations of the helicopter industry and from Save East Hampton Airport.”

The town is actively seeking public comment on the aircraft noise problem asks written comments be submitted to HTOcomments@EhamptonNY.gov.

 

Airport Special Meeting

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Noise consultants for East Hampton Town will present the first phase of their airport noise analysis at a special meeting on Thursday, October 30, at 10 a.m.

Henry Young and Les Blomberg of Young Environmental Sciences will present the interim report to the board. Afterward Peter Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, will speak on some of the potential next steps and alternatives.

Thursday’s meeting is the first stage of the town’s noise abatement efforts. The board voted last month to impose regulations on the airport in an effort to mitigate the noise pollution in East Hampton and the surrounding communities.

The meeting on Thursday morning will take place at the East Hampton Village Emergency Services Building, 1 Cedar Street in East Hampton.

Taking Aim at Airport Noise

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The East Hampton Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday, September 18, to put in regulations at East Hampton Airport in order to curtail an ongoing and increasing noise problem.

The resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, was read aloud and discussed at a work session on Tuesday, September 16.

Without naming any specific regulations, the town board resolved to identify and adopt regulations that would address noise disturbances from the airport. Henk Houtenbos, a local pilot, spoke during the public portion of Thursday’s meeting.  He brought up a resolution passed by the previous town board on August 2012, which “announced its intent to pursue use restrictions on operations at the airport.”

“What I noticed as well is that there were two members of this council who actually voted against that resolution. It was Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby,” Mr. Houtenbos said.

He asked how those two members of the board planned on voting on Thursday, and what, if anything has changed.

Mr. Van Scoyoc told him to “stay tuned.” All four of the board members present voted for the resolution. Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez, who was absent from Thursday’s meeting, said last week the board hopes to have proposed aircraft regulations drafted by Christmas.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board unanimously voted to send Peter Boody, senior airport attendant, to a free workshop in Washington, D.C., this month sponsored by Whereas Exelis, Inc. The company provides aircraft tracking services at the town airport.

Sag Harbor Joins Airport Foes

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Sag Harbor, which until Tuesday stood alone as the only municipality not taking a stand on the East Hampton Airport, came into the fold. Near the end of its monthly meeting, the village board hastily adopted a resolution offered by Trustee Ed Deyermond calling on the town to stop accepting grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration and develop a comprehensive plan to control noise and limit air traffic, including adopting a curfew.

“We’re the only village that hasn’t taken a stance on the airport,” Mr. Deyermond said, referring to actions by other municipalities, including East Hampton Village and North Haven and other towns, including Southampton, Shelter Island and Southold. “And I think we should mirror what the other villages have done.”

His resolution, which had not yet been written, passed unanimously, and Fred W. Thiele Jr., the board’s attorney, said that he would prepare a written version for the record.

East Hampton Airport Founder’s Eyes Were on the Stars

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Charlotte Niles, who founded the East Hampton Airport to teach locals how to fly in 1946. Photographs courtesy of Charlot Taylor.

By Mara Certic

Charlotte Niles was born in September 1913 in New York. Her father was a lawyer and a founder of the Wildlife Conservation Society. According to her niece, Charlot Taylor of East Hampton, she grew up rather comfortably and spent her summers in the family’s home on Amagansett’s Main Street, where it still stands today.

But when World War II began, Ms. Niles knew it was her time to pitch in. She trained with the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Ms. Taylor still has letters that her aunt wrote to the family during the time of her “rigorous” training in the intense Texas heat.

Ms. Taylor remembers her aunt telling her of the various bombers she flew during the war. The WASP motto was “We live in the wind and sand… and our eyes are on the stars.” Perhaps Ms. Niles took those words to heart, for when the war ended, she decided to come back to where she spent her summers and bring aviation to the East End.

In 1946, Ms. Niles set up shop at the small East Hampton Airport, which, at the time, her niece remembers to be nothing more than a large field.  According to her niece, Ms. Niles built a small terminal, a hangar, two short runways and installed a gas pump.

“I don’t even remember that there was a parking lot,” Ms. Taylor said at her East Hampton home on Wednesday. She does remember her aunt flying her around the area, taking her to nearby islands. “‘Let’s go for a spin,’ she’d say” and niece and aunt would spend the afternoon exploring the East End from the sky.Charlotte Niles 2

Ms. Taylor also recalls a split rail fence around the airport, and at each post there was “a beautiful red rose,” she said. “Things were done with care and simplicity and beauty. It was a pleasant environment, it was a welcome to visitors,” Ms. Taylor said.

Ms. Niles gave flying lessons for $3 a pop, to local GIs, potato farmers, the two airport secretaries and Perry B. Duryea. According to her niece, she was always trying to teach other women how to fly the small prop planes that, at that time, were the only aircraft in and out of the airport.

One day, a Bonanza plane landed at the East Hampton Airport and Ms. Niles’s life changed. She fell in love with its pilot and they got married. Her husband had a boatyard in Massachusetts, where Ms. Niles ended up spending most of her time.

Ms. Taylor doesn’t remember exactly when her aunt moved on from her airport life, but a Newsday article from December 1955 names the East Hampton Airport manager as a Mr. Lamb. In that same article, the airport manager reportedly rejected a proposed $1.5 million expansion of the airport, deeming it “too grandiose.”

Ms. Niles died in 1981. Next Tuesday, September 9 would have been her 101st birthday, according to her niece.

Another Newsday article, this one from 1952, spoke of socialites stranded on the East End following a Long Island Rail Road strike, who decided to “take to the air.”  “The traffic, though unexpected, was not unprecedented at the airport, which has transported as many as 150 passengers in a single week end,” the article read.  On one weekend in July this year, there were 623 flights reported at the airport.

Ms. Taylor who said she was previously never particularly affected by aircraft noise, is among the group imploring the town board to reject FAA funding and put in place restrictions. “My aunt would be shocked and horrified to see what the airport has become,” she said at the special airport meeting on August 27. “This was never, never her intention, make no mistake.”

East Hampton Town Names Next Airport Manager

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The East Hampton Town Board announced on Tuesday that they intend to appoint Jemille Charlton as airport manager following new of Jim Brundige’s resignation.

Mr. Charlton has held the position of airport attendant since May 2013. The 33-year-old attended New York Military Academy, Community College of the Air Force and, according to a press release issued by Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez’s office, will graduate from Dowling College School of Aviation with a degree in Airport Management in May 2015.

“I believe we can take our airport into the future while maintaining our unique East End quality of life. Being a third-generation resident and now raising the fourth here, I understand what it means to be fully invested in this community, and will strive to maintain its ideals and values. As a community, we must think rationally and responsibly to ensure the stability of our East End for generations to come,” he said in the release.

“Jemille is a young man with a solid background in aviation, impeccable credentials and deep roots in our community. As a 15-year member of the Air National Guard, we are proud of his service to our country and I look forward to partnering with him as we develop a plan that addresses the Airport’s finances, infrastructure, capital and noise issues,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The resolution to appoint Mr. Charlton is scheduled for the town board’s regular meeting on Thursday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m. If passed, Mr. Charlton’s position will take effect immediately. According to the release, Mr. Brundige will stay at the airport to help with the transition until October 17.

 

North Haven Weighs in on Airport

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In a brief meeting that took all of six minutes, the North Haven Village Board on Tuesday, August 26, added its voice to the growing chorus objecting to the noise of helicopters and jets using East Hampton Airport.

The last-minute meeting was held just a day before a scheduled special hearing before the East Hampton Town Board for residents of all five East End towns to air their grievances about the airport.

The resolution, approved by unanimously by the board members present, had a four-pronged request: That the airport decline further Federal Aviation Administration funding; that it adopt a comprehensive aircraft noise limitation policy to begin as soon as its obligations under FAA grants expire on December 31; that the town board provide the Village of North Haven 60 days notice of any future change in airport policy and that the board include members of the North Haven Village Board in work groups, discussions and meetings on the airport.

The measure came after the Southampton Town Board unanimously adopted an almost identical resolution on Thursday, August 14. “I hope other village boards make this decision,” said the newest member of the North Haven Village Trustees, Thomas J. Schiavoni.

East Hampton Town Board to Hold Special Meeting on Aircraft Noise

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Due to overwhelming interest, the East Hampton Town Board has announced that it will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 27, where residents from both forks are invited to air their concerns. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

The East Hampton Town Board will hold a special meeting next week to give residents from the North and South forks the opportunity to express their concerns about aircraft noise.

The board’s decision followed a meeting of the Noyac Civic Council at the Bridgehampton Senior Nutrition Center last week that attracted a crowd of well over 100 residents, a large number of whom had to stand in the back of the room for the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting. Residents from as far away as Mattituck attended the meeting to air their concerns in front of Congressman Tim Bishop, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., other East End elected officials and several Federal Aviation Administration representatives.

All of the East Hampton residents at the Noyac meeting urged those who live in Southampton Town and elsewhere to attend the East Hampton Town Board meeting, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, August 21.

Charles Ehren, vice chairman of The Quiet Skies Coalition, urged all of those gathered to “make your case to the East Hampton Town Board.”

But with the prospect of a large crowd descending on Town Hall, the East Hampton Town Board scheduled the special meeting to discuss the airport for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott.

Bob Malafronte, who with Barry Holden, represents Southampton residents on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee, made the same plea and said next week’s meeting “is going to be an important one.”

“We understand a large number of East End residents wish to address this issue and many planned to attend the August 21 regular meeting of the Town Board. Based on the turnout of citizens attending recent meetings on this issue in Southold and Southampton Towns, we would anticipate an overflow crowd on the night of August 21 when the Town Board already has 13 public hearings scheduled,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a release issued on Monday.

“Such a turnout will leave many people without seating, standing in the entryway and outdoors. In order to adequately host the number of people who wish to address the Town Board, we are inviting residents of the North and South Fork to attend the special meeting on August 27 at LTV Studios,” he continued.

The Quiet Skies Coalition also issued a press release on Monday informing its members of the change. “Quiet Skies Coalition congratulates the supervisor for recognizing the importance of this issue and making a special effort for community input. QSC urges all noise-affected residents to attend this meeting to voice concerns regarding aircraft noise,” it read.

There has been little doubt, according to airport critics, that the current town board in East Hampton has been much more responsive than previous administrations.

“It’s a different board now,” said Barry Holden at last Tuesday’s meeting.

“The people on the board are looking in the right direction. But we’re up against a group of business people and owners of corporations.”

Residents, who say they are being tormented by the noise, and environmentalists hope that the town board will stop accepting money from the FAA when the current grant obligations expire on December 31, 2014.

At that point, the board would be able to impose stricter regulations on the airport and, some hope, ban helicopters.

 

Elected Officials To Pressure East Hampton Town on Ending Helicopter Crisis

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Congressman Tim Bishop answered questions about helicopter noise at a very well-attended meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, August 12. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

It was a full house at the Noyac Civic Council’s August meeting on Tuesday, as residents from all over the East End perched on desks and hovered outside open doors to hear Congressman Tim Bishop and other elected officials address the ongoing issue of helicopter noise at the East Hampton Airport.

Residents from Sag Harbor, East Hampton, North Haven, Noyac and Mattituck gathered at the Bridgehampton Community House on Tuesday, August 12 and expressed their frustration with the seemingly endless helicopter traffic that continues to plague eastern Long Island.

Elena Loreto, president of the Noyac Civic Council, played a recording of helicopter noise taken at her house to the FAA representatives who had come to answer questions and listen to grievances at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is what it’s like when you’re having company, or having a birthday party,” she said over the sound of whirring blades and engines.

Ms. Loreto complained about the “B-team” of FAA representatives who had been sent to the meeting, asked where FAA administrator Michael Huerta was, and accused them of being mute.

FAA representatives responded that Mr. Huerta was in Washington D.C. and that they would report back to him. “A lot of what we’re doing is listening to what your concerns are,” said Mark Guiod of NY TRACON. He was the only FAA official to express sympathy to the crowd and said, “what you’re experiencing just shouldn’t happen.”

“The issue we’re going to focus on is what’s in the best interest of the people that we represent,” Congressman Bishop said on Tuesday. He added that he has reached out to the senior leadership of the FAA inviting them to a meeting with Senator Charles Schumer and supervisors from the five East End towns. “We hope to have that meeting in the next week to 10 days,” he said.

Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Doherty announced loudly, “Shelter Island cannot take it anymore.” The island recently banned the taking off or landing of any helicopters other than emergency services. “What has been our reward?” he asked. “We’ve become a dustbin.”

“We’re fed up and we’re with you all the way,” he said to the crowd.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. encouraged the masses.  “Our goal is to get the federal government to act as soon as possible,” he said, adding that they need to identify exactly what changes need to be made. “It’s not good enough to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic,” he said to great applause.

There was much discussion and some confusion throughout the meeting of the various helicopter routes, but it became apparent that no new route could provide a satisfactory result. Wainscott resident Barry Raebeck said, “Shifting helicopter routes does not solve the problem of noise and pollution. It does not even lessen the problem. It simply shifts the problem to other people. There is no such thing as an all-water route to a land-locked airport.”

The way to solve the problem, he said, “is to eliminate commercial operations at East Hampton Airport.”

Kathy Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition, and countless other speakers, implored the citizens of neighboring towns to attend the next East Hampton Town Board meeting on Thursday, August 21. “They need to see this support,” she said.

When asked what chance the East Hampton Town Board had of imposing regulations on the airport, Congressman Bishop directed that question to the amassed FAA representatives. Mary McCarthy from the FAA answered that until the grant assurances expire on December 31, 2014, the town board would not be able to restrict the use of the airport except for safety reasons.

After that point, however, if the town board decided not to take anymore FAA money, the airport would be able to impose flight restrictions. Frank Dalene, who serves on the airport subcommittee of the town’s finance advisory committee, said they have found that if helicopter traffic were eliminated from the airport, it would still be able to support itself without the help of FAA money.

“The decision maker on January 1, 2015 will be the town board,” he said. He added that East Hampton lawmakers needed to know there are people who would support new regulations.

All those who spoke about the East Hampton Town Board mentioned the encouraging changes that they have seen in the new administration, including North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander. The next step, he said, is to get the board to regain control of the airport from the FAA.

“But I think there’s a much larger problem here. I’ve seen letters from the other side, and I’ve seen the distribution of those other letters,” he said, adding that every billionaire on the East End is on that distribution list, and that an expensive lawsuit will ensue.

“This is a regional problem. We’ve got to make it a regional fight,” he said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at this point announced that the board was planning to have a special meeting on Thursday, July 14 to pass a memorializing resolution that would support East Hampton in a decision to refuse money from the FAA. She added they are encouraged by the change in town board, and addressed the representatives of the FAA, “We should not have to worry about getting sued for making decisions that should be happening on your level,” she said.

When asked if they would support the East Hampton Town Board if they were to make this decision, both Congressman Bishop and Assemblyman Thiele said that they would support whatever decision the town makes.

“When the people lead, the leaders will follow, and I think that’s what it’s about here tonight,” Mr. Thiele said.

Editor’s note: Barry Raebeck is the father of Sag Harbor Express reporter Tessa Raebeck.

Bishop, Thiele To Meet with Noyac Civic Council

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The Noyac Civic Council has chosen a slightly larger venue than the Old Noyac Schoolhouse for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 12, when it welcomes U.S. Representative Tim Bishop and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. to discuss helicopter noise.

Tuesday’s meeting will take place at the Bridgehampton Senior Nutrition Center on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike at 7:30 p.m.

The elected officials, along with a representative from Senator Charles Schumer’s office, will talk about the status of the changes to the northern route, which directs helicopters north over Long Island Sound, as well as discuss what additional restrictions the East Hampton Town Board can impose on the airport.

The civic council also invited Federal Aviation Administration administrator Michael Huerta to answer questions, but he did not respond to the organization’s invitation.