Tag Archive | "east hampton airport"

Airport Tower Moves Forward

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web_EH Airport Traffic 3-23-12_6090

By Kathryn G. Menu

In an effort to reduce noise and increase safety, East Hampton Town is moving forward with plans to install a seasonal air traffic control tower at East Hampton Airport this summer.

However, while the town is making headway in that arena, a debate over whether or not it should continue to accept Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant monies came to a head last week. That’s because the town board stalled in passing a resolution to allow it to seek three new grants from the FAA for capital improvements.

During a town board work session on Tuesday, March 20 the generally united Republican majority on the board failed to come together to pass a resolution proposed by airport liaison, Councilman Dominick Stanzione.

Stanzione hoped to gain approval to apply for new grant applications to the FAA to repair the closed 4-22 runway, for the construction of a perimeter deer fence and for capital improvements at the airport. But he failed to gain the support of Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley.

Supervisor Wilkinson said he would like to consult with the town’s aviation attorney, Peter Kirsch, in light of a memo from the FAA to Congressman Tim Bishop. The memo outlined the ability of the town to impose restrictions at the airport once some of its existing grant contracts with the FAA expire in 2014.

Democratic town board members, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, have long supported stalling any new FAA grants while the effectiveness of the control tower and other noise abatement programs are assessed.

Stanzione, who has been working with Kirsch and the FAA to create a noise abatement plan, was able to secure approval to contract with three different firms that will assess the airport in different ways.

According to Stanzione, the town board has agreed to contract with Plane Noise and AirScene, companies that will monitor noise complaints and correspond those with arriving and departing aircrafts to compile data on noise stemming from the airport.

Vector Solutions was also hired by the board to create an automated billing system for airport users, which will not only create a more professional cash management system, said Stanzione, but will enable the town to track airport use.

Lastly, the town also agreed to hire Robinson Aviation to operate the seasonal control tower at East Hampton Airport at a cost of $342,600 a year.

The air traffic control tower still needs FAA approval, noted Stanzione. However, earlier this month, the agency took a step towards that reality when it published a formal notice in the Federal Register regarding the re-designation of the airport.

According to the notice, in the summer season the East Hampton Airport would be designated a Class D Airport. That will create a more restrictive airspace in a five-mile radius around the airport and require a minimum altitude of 2,500-feet for aircraft.

The airport would revert back to a Class E designation during the off-season. Comments on the FAA’s proposal are being accepted through this Friday, April 30.

“The control tower is about addressing safety and noise,” said Stanzione. “Traffic creates noise and if we can manage the altitudes of aircraft using the airport it is expected this will have a significant impact in terms of noise mitigation.”

In terms of whether or not to accept FAA funding for capital improvements, Stanzione said he remains persuaded that the town can continue to accept funding and still have control.

“Mainly, I support our FAA policy of pursuing grant funding while implementing a 43-point noise mitigation plan that down the line includes airport restrictions, but provides for the safest, most financially feasible and quickest path to providing for local control over the airport,” said Stanzione.

Members of the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion and the Quiet Skies Coalition have urged the current town board to rescind that resolution. The fear, according to Quiet Skies Coalition chairwoman Kathy Cunningham, is, if the grant goes through, the town will have an additional 20-years before it can place restrictions like curfews or prohibit certain aircraft from landing at the airport.

The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion has filed suit to prevent the town from accepting new funding. Earlier this month, its request for a temporary restraining order was rejected in court for a third time, although an application for a preliminary injunction remains on the table.

On Wednesday, Cunningham said she believes the FAA memo to Bishop demonstrates that the town will be able to enact “reasonable airport regulations” come December 2014 when some grant restrictions expires.

Cunningham noted that creating a noise abatement plan for the airport — termed a “Part 161” — has been upheld in only one community, Naples, Florida, and it was litigated.

“And now we have answers from the FAA,” said Cunningham. “They are saying that in no uncertain terms they will not take action against the town once the grant assurances expire in 2014.”

Cunningham said that state case law backs up that position, pointing to a legal dispute between a helicopter organization and the City of New York, which restricted helicopters and, not being bound by an FAA contract, won the right to keep those restrictions.

“We are not trying to shut down the airport,” Cunningham stressed. “But we have to deal with these very real issues affecting our quality of life.”

Activists Lose First Round Against East Hampton Town Taking FAA Monies

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A group opposed to the growth at East Hampton Airport was unsuccessful in its first bid to stop East Hampton Town officials from obtaining a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant last week.

But attorney Jeffrey Bragman says the fight is far from over.

On Wednesday, December 7 at the New York State Supreme Court building in Riverhead, Justice John J. J. Jones, Jr. rejected Bragman’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the town from taking FAA funding.

Bragman was representing The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, among other residents, in his attempt to obtain the TRO. The anti-noise and growth activists have argued that by taking FAA grants, the town will be prevented from gaining control over East Hampton Airport and the noise it produces from air traffic streaming in and out of the Wainscott facility, particularly in the summer months.

A day before Bragman sought the restraining order, the East Hampton Town Board unanimously passed a resolution stating it would apply for a grant to the FAA for the engineering of a deer fence around the perimeter of the airport. At the same meeting, town board members and aviation attorney Peter Kirsch vowed to implement aspects of a comprehensive noise abatement plan to deal with noise generated by the airport.

As a result of last week’s ruling, the town can move forward with its grant application, which according to town board member and airport liaison Dominick Stanzione said was filed last Tuesday, shortly after the board made its decision. When the FAA will rule on the town’s request, he said, was unknown.

“I would hope it happens sooner rather than later,” he said.

However, on Monday Bragman said the court’s decision was by no means unusual, pointing to the difficulty gaining a temporary restraining order in the first place. An application for a preliminary injunction to prevent the town from accepting the FAA grant money is still pending, said Bragman. He added that Justice Jones did not base his decisions on the merits, or lack thereof, of the ongoing case between his clients and the town over the environmental review of the town’s Airport Master Plan.

On Monday, Stanzione said he was confident in the town’s ability to win the next leg of the case, and remained focused on the future — a future he said was focused on working closely with the FAA to curtail noise generated by the airport.

“We need to work closely with them in establishing a Class D airspace around the airport,” said Stanzione.

If the airport had Class D airspace surrounding it, an air traffic controller would have control over aircraft up to 2,500-feet above and 10-miles around the airport.

Stanzione said developing and maintaining a strong relationship with the FAA would allow this federal designation to move forward, which coupled with a control tower could give residents some relief when it comes to noise.

“In order to provide immediate relief from helicopter and other aviation noise from this coming season, and it seems to be generally believed the control tower will do that, we need to have cooperation with the FAA,” he said.

Stanzione said he was also working with a regional task force to re-route helicopter traffic to a second southern route over Georgica Pond in East Hampton.

Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, will work with the town board to present a comprehensive noise abatement plan for the airport that will be presented in the next 60 to 90 days, said Stanzione. The town board will look at everything from the most effective and least expensive ideas to curb airport noise to the most expensive and least effective and evaluate which concepts the town should latch onto after studying that matrix, he said.

However, in the immediate, the town board will continue to seek approval to create Class D airspace around the airport immediately, and hopes to finalize its contract for the creation of the seasonal control tower in the next two weeks. In the next month, Kirsch said the town should hope to secure the next FAA grant, finalize a management program for the control tower and formalize a protocol for collecting and studying noise and safety data from the airport.

The town board will also look to adopt a new policy on the role of the airport in the next month, according to Kirsch’s presentation, and in the next two months will develop a strategy and timetable to implement helicopter restrictions at the airport, although what those restrictions will be remains unknown. According to Kirsch’s report, among the capital projects the town will explore at the airport is the installation of dedicated helipads, meaning it is unlikely plans are in place to ban helicopters altogether.

A nighttime curfew does appear to be on the table, according to Kirsch’s presentation.

The seasonal control tower is expected to be installed as early as March.

“We are being as comprehensive as we can,” said Stanzione. “And as always when I speak about the airport, it is important to acknowledge it contributes to our community and is an important asset to our town.”

Heated Hearing on the Airport

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By Karl Grossman

East Hampton Airport — it’s the biggest noisemaker on eastern Long Island.

It gets the lion’s share of the helicopters that ferry some very privileged people between Manhattan and the Hamptons — flying low and loud over Suffolk County. The machines roar over Brookhaven Town, then western Southampton and Riverhead, then the North and the South Forks and Shelter Island.

The chopper traffic is a relatively new phenomenon that has gotten completely out of hand.

They also fly to and from Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and Southampton Village’s helipad, but the main destination is the East Hampton Airport.

And the East Hampton community — at chopper ground zero — is at a crossroads.

“Our peaceful quality of life is threatened by airport noise,” declared a statement from Joan Osborne, vice president of the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, at a public hearing held by the East Hampton Town Board last week.

The hearing was ostensibly about a new deer fence at the airport. But a far broader issue was involved: whether the town should take money from the Federal Aviation Administration to buy the fence which would kick in continuing FAA authority over the field.

Like many a federal regulatory agency, the FAA is a lapdog, not a watchdog, of what it’s supposed to regulate. It’s in a conflict of interest being a booster of aviation and somehow, at the same time, regulating it. As for aviation noise, it does “a poor job,” says the national Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, and should “turn that responsibility over to the EPA.”

Whether East Hampton should keep accepting money from the FAA and allow the FAA to remain in control of the town-owned airport was a main issue in the recent town election. Organizations including the Quiet Skies Coalition, along with the Democratic candidates for town office, called for East Hampton to cut it off with the FAA and gain control of the field — and then limit the number of airport operations, impose a curfew and exclude aircraft deemed too noisy (spelled: helicopters).

The incumbent Republican Supervisor, Bill Wilkinson, survived by only 15 votes. But from its cocky stance at last Thursday’s hearing, you wouldn’t know the GOP-run board came within a political inch of being upset.

There was an overflow crowd at East Hampton Town Hall and that was expected, but the hearing wasn’t switched to a larger meeting hall as is common when there’s a public meeting on a red-hot controversy in a Long Island town. There was no loudspeaker letting people who couldn’t get into the room and were left standing outside to hear what was happening. And Mr. Wilkinson and allies on the board were especially sensitive when Jeff Bragman, attorney for the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, charged the board sought to rush its decision. He was then emphatically told his time was up although other speakers went past their allotted three minutes without such a fiery reaction.

Before that, Mr. Bragman talked about “the ultra-luxury travelers in helicopters.” The choppers coming into East Hampton “sound like the [helicopter] attack scene in Apocalypse Now.” As to the FAA, “Do you think they care a hoot about controlling noise?”

And he spoke against “just shuffling around” flights by varying routes when, he said, what’s needed is “fundamental change.” The town should stop taking money from the FAA and be able to exercise independent control. “You have the power to do it!”

But a main point of Mr. Bragman — that in 2014 East Hampton’s current obligations to the FAA will expire and the town could control the field — was contested by a town legal consultant. Attorney Peter Hirsch of Denver said “the town is grant-obligated to the FAA” to “2021 or later,” indeed some of the obligations “are permanent” and “never expire.” He claimed federal law pre-empts localities on aviation. And “because of the federal law, the only way” the town could control its field, he said, would be by “closing the airport.”

If that’s the only thing that can be done, it should be: the noisemaker should be shut down. The East Hampton Airport is far from being a public transportation center.  It services a very select few — with much noise. It constitutes, like a raucous racetrack, a public nuisance — and not only for people in East Hampton, but for folks throughout eastern Long Island.

East Hampton Schedules Public Hearing to Take FAA Funding

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Whether or not the Town of East Hampton should accept more funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to pay for improvements at The East Hampton Airport was one of the biggest political issues in an East Hampton Town election that has yet to be decided.

Despite the fact that the town supervisor’s race is still undecided — as is what political party will dominate the East Hampton Town Board — last Thursday the current board passed a resolution to host a public hearing on December 1 on whether or not it should accept more money from the FAA.

Opponents have argued doing so will extend the FAA’s control over the airport and prohibit the town board from controlling issues like curfews past the 2014 date when FAA grant assurances will expire.

On Thursday night, airport liaison and town board member Dominick Stanzione introduced the resolution, which was passed, that allows the public hearing to be held on December 1 at 7 p.m.

According to Stanzione, the town will seek funding from the FAA to update a deer fence at the airport in the wake of an August accident where a small plane collided with three deer at the airport. The incident resulted in no injuries.

Quickly after Thursday night’s town board meeting, the Quiet Skies Coalition — a group of East Hampton and Southampton residents who campaigned heavily to prevent the growth of the airport and assert more local control over the airspace around it — shot out an email to its constituency advising them of the hearing.

“The urgency for a decision on FAA funding is questionable, and the impetus appears to be entirely political, in the event Wilkinson should lose his seat as Supervisor,” the organization’s email alleges. “There is no other urgency to call a public meeting about capital improvements to a fence. There have been only three deer strikes recorded at FAA over the past 10 years, only one of which caused any damage. One can only conclude therefore that this is not about the fence.”

The organization questioned the urgency of the hearing given that the airport boasts a $1.5 million surplus.

Lobby for Skies that are Quiet

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Oct 26, QSC Forum, LTV

By Emily J. Weitz

For the thousands of residents living in the flight path of East Hampton Airport, the sound of a helicopter or jet is a teeth chattering, conversation stopping daily reality. These are people who would not classify airport noise as a nuisance. They would say it drastically compromises their quality of life, pulling them out of bed in the middle of the night and tearing through the peace of a Sunday afternoon.

These are also people who have banded together to create the Quiet Skies Coalition, an effort first and foremost to regain control over what happens at East Hampton Airport.

The Quiet Skies Coalition claim they are not against the airport. The vice chairman of the coalition, Frank Dalene, is a pilot himself who has flown in and out of East Hampton for years. Rather, the coalition members argue that the primary problem is that the town has lost authority on how to handle airport issues.

The group argues that because the town has a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the FAA has certain rules East Hampton must follow. One of these rules, or grant assurances, the coalition notes, states that the town can’t impose a curfew. They say this means that flights can come and go at all hours of the night.

They add that another provision limits the town’s ability to regulate the types of aircraft that comes and go.

“Aircraft are categorized by stages,” explained attorney Sheila Jones at a presentation by the Quiet Skies Coalition last week at LTV Studios in Wainscott. “Most helicopters are Stage 2, and jets might be Stage 2 or 3.”

Though the group suggests the airport might be able to regulate noise and traffic by limiting certain categories of aircraft from coming to East Hampton Airport, attorney David Gruber, a member of the Quiet Skies Coalition, explained in a statement that “The FAA policy grants unrestricted access for all aircraft types 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Jones went on to explain why the FAA gets to make these decisions for an airport owned and operated by a local government. She notes that it’s because the town accepted money from the FAA in the form of grants to make improvements on the airport.

“But the airport doesn’t need money from the FAA,” says Kathy Cunningham, member of the Quiet Skies Coalition. “The airport is collecting $600,000 a year in landing fees alone.”

Members added that fuel charges and storage fees also help the airport generate a strong annual profit. Because of that income, Quiet Skies says the airport should incorporate improvements into its budget instead of asking for more money from the FAA and extending the contracts.

Jones notes that pertinent aspects of this FAA contract, including the ability to regulate types of aircraft and the ability to set up a curfew, are due to expire on December 31, 2014. If they were allowed to expire, and the town chose not to accept any more money from the FAA, Jones explains, the town would be able to make decisions without too much interference from the FAA.

“They’re not just going to disappear,” she warns, “But they wouldn’t have the legal authority that they do when they’re in a contract with the town.”

But the current administration is at odds with this philosophy. The idea that the town needs to stop accepting FAA money to deal with airport noise and traffic concerns is “an expensive proposition,” says Dominick Stanzione, East Hampton Town Councilman. “They [The Quiet Skies Coalition] made a connection between the FAA and the achievement of noise mitigation goals, and it is fallacious.”

Stanzione believes that the town should continue taking FAA funds because it is “the fiscally responsible approach to capital management on behalf of the town.”

While he expresses utmost respect for the Quiet Skies Coalition, he believes that “The legitimate concerns of noise can be addressed through a comprehensive plan within the FAA framework.”

Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition disagree.

Jones says that in regards to solving the public’s complaints, until the grant assurances run out, “Our hands are tied.”

Cunningham wonders why the town can’t just allow the grant assurances to run out and then deal with the matters on a local level. Possible solutions offered by the group include imposing a curfew, closing on weekends, excluding particular aircraft types, and restricting the total number of aircraft operations.

She notes these are exactly the limitations that the 34th Street Heliport in Manhattan imposed, and they have been deemed legal by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in our jurisdiction.

“But as long as the airport is accepting money from the FAA,” says Cunningham, “we can’t even try to implement these measures.”

Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition add that in the summer months, East Hampton Airport has approximately 400 operations daily, which they say is nearly as many as Long Island MacArthur Airport. According to the Quiet Skies Coalition, though, only about 1 percent of the population of East Hampton benefits from the airport in any way.

Stanzione acknowledges that residents are being negatively impacted, but when it comes to the airport, noted the town intends to work within the bounds of the FAA to appease citizens.

“We believe we should try to minimize the negative effects of aviation while maximizing the benefits,” says Stanzione. “We already have a voluntary curfew between 11 [p.m.] and 7[a.m.], and we have 97 percent compliance with that.”

Stanzione offered additional measures the town may take.

“Maybe people will sell property to the airport,” he says. “We might work with ground operations like landing and fueling practices. There are all kinds of rules that can be pressed for meticulous operation.”

But according to the Quiet Skies Coalition, as long as the FAA is applying its regulations to East Hampton Airport, there will be a disconnect that will keep local residents from finding peace in their own backyards.

FAA Opens the Door for Airport Tower

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Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration accepted East Hampton Town’s Airport Layout Plan (ALP), paving the way for town officials to pursue the installation of a seasonal air traffic control tower, which East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said would increase regulation at the Wainscott-based facility.

However, critics note the approval also sets the stage for the East Hampton Town Board to accept more grant monies from the FAA, which gives the agency some control over operations at the airport.

The FAA informed East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson of its approval via letter last Tuesday, stating the FAA’s New York Airports District Office deemed the ALP “acceptable.”

“This fulfills a campaign promise-to get our airport into a more safe and secure position within professional aviation and just as important, to be a better neighbor,” said Wilkinson. “Now we can move on a seasonal control tower.”

The FAA’s approval allows East Hampton Town officials to obtain FAA authorization for a temporary seasonal control tower and the designation of ten-miles of airspace around the airport under direct FAA supervision, according to Stanzione, who is the town board liaison to the airport.

Supervisor Wilkinson said this would give East Hampton “effective control of our airspace.”

According to a press release issued by Supervisor Wilkinson’s office last week, town records show that the last time the East Hampton ALP was approved was in 1989.

“This is a historical moment in modern town history,” said Supervisor Wilkinson.

The newly approved ALP accepts the town’s layout for the airport as it exists today, in both physical and technical aviation terms, said Stanzione. The town board adopted both the ALP and the Airport Master Plan last year, although the FAA has not made any decisions regarding the sufficiency of the Airport Master Plan.

That document is the subject of a lawsuit brought by a group of residents last year, who claim the issue of noise was not sufficiently addressed within the Airport Master Plan.

“While the FAA approval of our ALP is a milestone achievement, it is part of a more comprehensive approach to managing the airport as a business and community asset, and to creatively and practically mitigating impacts of aviation activity, efforts Councilman Stanzione has diligently pursued,” said Supervisor Wilkinson.

The approval also allows the town the ability to seek funding from the FAA for capital improvements. Critics of the noise generated by helicopters and planes flying in and out of the airport maintain the town would be best served by allowing FAA grant restrictions to expire in 2014, rather than extend them by accepting more funding.

According to Barry Raebeck and Bob Wolfram, of the Quiet Skies Coalition (QSC), allowing those restrictions to expire would give the town the ability to return the East Hampton Airport to its intended use – a small town airport, rather than an airport that accepts around 80 percent of the air traffic volume seen at Islip MacArthur Airport.

On Friday, Raebeck and Wolfram attended the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to introduce the QSC and enlist the CAC’s support as the organization battles to reduce the amount of activity at the airport.

Raebeck said outside of the quality of life and noise issues many residents of East Hampton and Southampton contend with each summer due to the number of planes and helicopters flying into the airport, the amount of activity at the facility creates visual pollution, air pollution and is an environmental danger.

Wolfram asked the CAC to reach out to Southampton Town officials and implore them to ask the East Hampton Town Board to “control” their airport as the impact of the facility reaches far outside East Hampton Town borders.

“We are not trying to close the airport or attack our local recreational pilots, but return the airport to its original use,” said Raebeck.

He added the current town board under Supervisor Wilkinson have disbanded the noise abatement committee and refers to the airport as if it is a community asset. Raebeck said likely just one-to-two percent of the community uses the airport, with just two or three local businesses profiting off its existence.

“The helicopters and seaplanes are largely based in New York and Dutchess County,” he said.

Raebeck said the QSC was attempting to expand beyond its 150-membership to become a large organization with influence, and will be asking all candidates seeking office in East Hampton this fall to pledge whether or not they plan on taking more funding from the FAA.

“If the airport reverts to local control, we have local control,” he said. “We could say, no helicopters. We could say, from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. the airport is closed.”

“I don’t want a major, metropolitan airport near my house, or anyone’s house for that matter,” added Raebeck.

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.”

Toward a Future Festival

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While unknown indie bands and seasoned rock ‘n roll vets from all across the U.S. were belting songs on the second day of the Escape to New York music festival this past weekend on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, the East End got wind of some very unfortunate news.

The Hamptons’ highly anticipated second act, MTK: the Music to Know festival, had come to an end—before it even had a chance to begin.

Sure enough, just days before it was scheduled to unfold atop the tarmac of the East Hampton Airport, the MTK: Music to Know festival was officially cancelled.  In keeping with the weekend’s suddenly dour turn of events (Day Three of E2NY was cancelled for weather-related reasons), MTK was abandoned.  As festival organizers proclaimed, ticket sales were just too low.

Like many other MTK festival hopefuls, we too were sad.

MTK not only promised to educate us isolated Long Islanders on the relevant new music of the day — the “music to know,” if you will — it promised to punctuate our summer with a large-scale event: two days’ worth of live music, good food, new trends and the opportunity to brush shoulders with thousands of people all gathering in the same place with one overarching goal: to have a good time.

We commend the ambition of those who backed the effort to make this festival happen. Yes, certainly for their creativity and their desire to infuse the East End with something (dare we say it?) hip — but, to be honest, mostly because we remember what it was like when we actually had the opportunity to attend such shows. There was the “All For the Sea” concert with the likes of James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet and Bob Dylan, which used to be held every year as a fundraiser for Southampton College. And then there was “Back to the Ranch” in Montauk, which showcased Paul Simon, among others.

The way MTK fizzled out of sight this past weekend, it seems there’s little hope the concert might make a resurgence next year. And while we would hate to see these efforts all for naught, even more importantly, we would hate to see the push to bring a music festival to the East End suddenly diminish.

Clearly, there’s a taste for something of this caliber here. (MTK did, in fact, manage to sell about 2,500 tickets, not to mention those that would have been purchased on the day of the concert itself.) Hopefully, this year’s MTK effort is just a taste of what we can look forward to in the future.

Getting to the City: The Quick Way

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Fly The Whale-adjusted

By Claire Walla

It’s happened. My undying loyalty to wheeled transportation’s been put into question.

It’s not exactly the bus’s fault. The Jitney has been my preferred mode of transportation over locomotives since I discovered that the Long Island Rail Road only offers two inconveniently well-spaced Sunday trips from Penn Station back to the remote depths of the East End: one a-tad-too-early (11:45 a.m.), the other way-too-late (9:16 p.m.).

But as smooth and luxurious as the open road may be, my preference has been lured beyond tracks and wheels.

Earlier this month, I headed to the East Hampton Airport to meet Andrew Clark, co-owner of Fly the Whale, a relatively new sky-high venture with regular weekend service through that well-traveled airway between the Big Apple and the East End.

Whale Force One - adjusted

I had never been to the East Hampton terminal before. As far as I could tell, it was unofficially reserved for portly businessmen in seasonally light-colored suits and statuesque women in multi-colored, floor-length sun dresses and oversized shades, flanked by a pair of leather bags fashioned by someone with an Italian-sounding name. (I saw at least one of each.) Stepping foot on that tarmac essentially required a certain amount of disposable income ($990 round-trip on The Whale, to be exact).

It’s not a financial realm with which I’m very familiar. I approached the airport in a purple sun dress, weighted down by a worn A.D.I.D.A.S. gym bag left over from my high school days as a power forward and an oversized all-weather Timbuk2 bike-messenger bag from the same era.

So, you ask, what was I—vintage bags and all—doing here, at the East Hampton Airport, just minutes away from my own chartered flight to the Manhattan?

It turns out we Hamptonians have the great fortune of being perfectly placed to take advantage of Fly the Whale’s “dead legs.” These are the trips this sea plane makes back to the city on Fridays after having dropped well-festooned urbanites off out east, and on Sundays after it’s brought the thoroughly bronzed city-dwellers back home. And at a whopping discount of 80 percent (which makes each leg of the journey a mere $100) even I and my high-school gym bag were ripe for the occasion.

My instructions were as follows: head to the tarmac Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Pretty simple for airport protocol in this day and age. (No hour-long check-in. No metal detectors. No cumbersome customs agents.) And sure enough, as I wandered out into the sun’s butterscotch glow and stood amid the cacophony of rumbling Cessna’s on the black asphalt—which felt like a Technicolor version of “Casablanca”—I bumped into a bearded guy in aviators, khakis and dock shoes, who looked too easy-going to be a passenger.

This, I learned, was Kerry Hanger—the pilot.

Kerry - adjusted

Fly the Whale was established in the Hamptons last year after Hanger and Clark purchased their own sea plane from the one-and-only Hamptons-based pop star-turned aviator: Jimmy Buffet, who was then looking to ditch the 10-seater for a brand new set of wings. (Said new-and-improved Buffet-mobile—nearly identical to this one—sat just a few wing-spans away on the tarmac.) The appropriately named Hanger, the son of a Canadian pilot who himself flew a commercial airline route between the U.S. and Europe for several years; and Clark, who had been a real estate agent in Manhattan; teamed up with Melissa Tomkiel, a Manhattan-based lawyer who quit her job last year to join the boys and work full-time for The Whale. (The team spends its summers in the Caribbean chartering island-hopping flights, catering primarily to those seeking refuge at Richard Branson’s private island.)

Once the clock struck 4:30 p.m., we hopped in the veritable aeronautic mini-van and were off to the city.

You’ve probably heard it said life is a journey, not a destination. And in this case the journey was certainly grand.

At first the plane rocked gently like a kid on a balance beam with arms outstretched in attempt to gain composure, but it quickly steadied and rose swiftly above the tree-line, which from only a few hundred miles up looked like a fluffy green beard growing atop the East End. We continued effortlessly above residential areas, and—just for fun—descended to a stretch of airspace only slightly above the waves, soaring along the bayside cliffs of Stony Brook, low enough to look into the eyes of each boater we passed—though only momentarily (we were clocking speeds of 170 knots, or 196 mph, after all).

Manhattan - adjusted

The landscape changed around Queens, and suddenly we were approaching the lumbering swathe of skyscrapers fighting for space on the isle of Manhattan. From this vantage point—seemingly at eye-level with the monstrous buildings—the entire city looked accessible, almost reachable, as if made out of Legos. Flying parallel to the eastside skyline, we slowly sank back to Earth, finally hitting the East River with a few delicate taps before floating over to the dock at East 23 Street.

Life is usually more heavy on the journey, less focused on the destination. But, when it comes to getting off Long Island, ultimately it’s the destination that really counts.

We made it in about 40 minutes.

It’s true: $200 is still a pretty penny for a weekend romp in a city not exactly known for being cheap. It’s precisely $147 more than a round-trip Jitney ticket.

But when you’ve got less than 48 hours to walk about town—32 tops, when you factor in sleep time—slicing through the atmosphere will give you about three more hours to do with what you please.

Is it worth $147?

Consider this: on the way back to the East End, if the plane is packed with enough Sag Harborites, The Whale’s been known to touch down in the middle of Sag Harbor Bay, bringing passengers within steps of Main Street.

Out of the city and into the village in the time it takes to watch a sit-com?

That’s pretty darn convenient.

FAA Approves Music to Know Music Festival at the East Hampton Airport as Producers Announce Talent

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Just a day after Sag Harbor residents Chris Jones and Bill Collage announced the musical lineup for this summer’s MTK: Music to Know Music Festival, they received word from the Federal Aviation Administration that the festival was approved to take place at the East Hampton Airport. That was the final hurdle producers had to jump to ensure the music festival they have been planning for over a year will go on.

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“We are all systems go,” said Jones on Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after receiving confirmation from the FAA.

Having already received a commercial mass gathering permit from East Hampton Town to move the festival from an Amagansett farm to the East Hampton Airport, FAA approval was the last step before Jones could be assured the concert would go on.

“Now the fun part begins,” he said.

The fun part actually began on Monday night at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, where Jones and Collage, surrounded by over two dozen supporters, announced the musical lineup for the two-day music festival, slated for August 13 and 14.


Vampire Weekend, an American indie rock band out of New York City, will headline the festival on Saturday night. According to Collage, the band has turned down a number of major festivals and choosing to come to the MTK Music Festival is a testament both to what the festival hopes to accomplish, and also the market on the East End of Long Island.

“We are pleased to say on Saturday night to headline we have one of the brightest and the best new bands emerging for one of their only U.S. gigs,” said Jones.

“It’s a testament, not just to us, but really to this market,” added Collage. “They specifically wanted to work here, with us. They wanted to be a part of the Hamptons in the summer because of the people that are here. We couldn’t be more thrilled and we see them as a perfect fit for what we think is Music To Know right now.”

The second headlining act, which will close the festival, is the Nebraska-based indie rock band Bright Eyes led by Conor Oberst.


Oberst, touted as “the new Dylan” in 2005 after the release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” and the rest of Bright Eyes recently performed as headliners at the popular Coachella Music and Art Festival. They also sold out two shows to acclaim in March at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and are opening for Coldplay at Lollapalooza in Chicago the weekend before MTK Music Festival opens.

“Frankly, they are just incredible,” said Jones on Monday night.

Vampire Weekend and Bright Eyes will be joined by 16 other acts over the course of the weekend, including The Limousines, a San Jose, California-based electro-pop band, who Jones said sound like “a combination of Peter Gabriel meets Depeche Mode.” They are known primarily for their song “Internet Killed the Video Star.”

Francis and The Lights, a New York City-based soul and electronic band led by Francis Farewell Starlite is also slated to perform, as is Portland folk musician M. Ward, whose 2009 album “Hold Time” featured guest performances by Lucinda Williams and Zooey Deschanel. The New Zealand electronic ensemble The Naked and Famous are also on the roster, as is indie rock band We Are Scientists.


Tom Tom Club, led by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads, will also perform in the festival, as will the California based folk-rock group Dawes, and the indie-rock, chamber-pop group Ra Ra Riot, a New York based band that incorporates a small string section into their music. Chromeo, a two-member electro-funk group, Canadian pop group Young Empires, Nicos Gun, Brooklyn-duo Matt & Kim, the folk-inspired Tame Impala and the Motown-inspired Fitz & The Tantrums are also slated to perform.

“The Cold War Kids are a real exclamation point in our lineup,” said Jones on Monday night of the indie rock band out of Long Beach, California.

Lastly, MTK Music Festival will feature SUDDYN, a rock band boasting a piano-ballad based sound with influences felt from groups like Radiohead, U2, the Beatles and Muse. The group found acclaim across the pond in Ireland a few years back, scoring three hit singles and quickly becoming one of the most popular unsigned acts in the country.

SUDDYN - Helen Olds Photography

What makes that band’s appearance at MTK Music Festival poignant, noted Jones, is that it originally formed in Montauk, where two of its members — vocalist and piano player Alan Steil and his brother Jarrett, also a vocalist and guitar player — grew up, attending high school mere miles from the concert site.

“We are trying to expose them through the festival,” said Jones on Monday night.

On Tuesday, Jarrett said not only was the band, which is rounded out by drummer Brendan Connolly, honored to be playing the festival, but also appreciated what it brings to the table in terms of talent.

“Usually we have a great classic like Billy Joel or Paul Simon out there,” he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles where the band has recently relocated. “But this is a festival of up-and-coming artists and we are really proud to be a part of that.”

The MTK Music Festival will sell 9,500 tickets in total for the two-day music festival, which in addition to music will feature local cuisine, wine and beer, retail booths and an area designed for children.

The cost for the festival is $195 for general admission to the two-days. However, locals will have a chance for a reduced price $175 ticket through May 23. Those tickets are available at Sylvester & Co. in Sag Harbor, Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett, Khanh Sports in East Hampton Village, and 668 Gig Shack in Montauk.

According to Jones, VIP tickets, which are on sale for $645, already had begun to sell quickly on the first day of sales.

In addition to access to a VIP tent, with a special viewing deck of the stage, preferred parking at the site, and a unique menu of food and spirits, VIP access will also include small performances by guest artists that have yet to be announced as well as fashion shows.

“And we will reveal more of what we have up our sleeve as we get closer to August,” said Jones.

For information, videos and music visit http://www.musictoknow.com.