Tag Archive | "east hampton airport"

Residents Make Noise About East Hampton Airport

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Heller_Public Meeting @ EH Airport 5-1-13_9777

By Amanda Wyatt

As East Hampton Airport seeks to install a permanent, seasonal air traffic control tower, a number of East End residents are once again bringing the issue of airport noise to the forefront of that discussion.

Last Wednesday, roughly 60 residents turned out for a public hearing at the airport on an environmental assessment of the proposed control tower. And although the assessment does not cite noise as an area of concern, it was a high priority for many of the attendees.

According to Peter Byrne, senior airport planner at the Hauppauge-based firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., the hearing was part of a formal process under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Byrne gave the audience an overview of the 26-feet, four-inch tower, which would be functional for roughly 16 hours a day between May and September.

From an enclosed glass cab, air traffic controllers would use a high frequency radio to communicate with aircraft owners. The tower would also come equipped with “a steady burning, red obstruction light,” he added.

Nonetheless, the majority of commenters at the hearing aired their grievances not about the tower, but about noise pollution generated by the airport in general.

Airport noise has been an issue debated in East Hampton and beyond for years, but became increasingly controversial last summer, when one of two recommended helicopter flight paths was eliminated, rerouting all helicopter traffic over Jessup’s Neck in Noyac.

Residents of the hamlet, along with North Sea, Sag Harbor and other surrounding areas, have reported a major increase in noise as a result. For the last year, those residents have been joined by government officials like Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Congressman Tim Bishop, Senator Charles Schumer, New York State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., among others including members of civic organizations, in calling for a comprehensive strategy to address helicopter noise stemming from the airport before another busy summer season begins.

At the same time, the environmental assessment discussed at last Wednesday’s meeting does not include Noyac or the surrounding area as being one impacted by the control tower. Bridget Fleming, a Southampton Town councilwoman who serves as the liaison to Noyac, asked that the area of study be expanded to include these locales.

The study “does not note anything about the concomitant increase in noise over Noyac, North Sea and the Sag Harbor area,” said Fleming. “The presence of the tower has a very real impact on those areas and the areas that are outside the study area.”

For Kathleen Cunningham, chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition, the control tower “offers safety, but it also increases capacity.”

Patricia Currie, a fellow Quiet Skies member, said, “Increased capacity is noise.”

Theresa Caskey, who traveled from Mattituck on the North Fork to give her testimony, said planes on their way to East Hampton were waking her up early in the morning.

Tom MacNiven of Wainscott added that holding a hearing mid-week was a problem for many second homeowners in the area and that it had not been properly publicized.

For some residents, the hearing was a chance for some show-and-tell.

William Reilly of Sag Harbor held up a stack of notebooks that recorded the “hundreds” of times he had called to complain about noise over the years.

And Elena Loreto, president of the Noyac Civic Council, played a tape of helicopter noise she had recorded at her house last weekend.

“Welcome to my backyard,” she shouted over the sound of choppers. “This is my Saturday and Sunday.”

Noyac resident Gene Polito, on the other hand, questioned the accuracy of the environmental report.

“Apparently, the report you put together is flawed from top to bottom,” he said, adding “noise pollution is environmental. Air pollution is environmental. Everything related to the airport is environmental.”

Jeff Bragman of East Hampton, who called the control tower “a sales pitch by the airport lobby,” lambasted the fact that the hearing was moderated by “a couple of suits from Hauppauge.”

“This hearing is everything about why we need local control instead of FAA control,” he said, eliciting applause from the audience.

But Gerard Boles of East Hampton, an aircraft owner and president of the East Hampton Aviation Association, offered a different perspective.

“With the amount of traffic that we have in the summertime, the control tower proves to be beneficial,” he said.

While he said it was “not a panacea, it is not the solution,” he believed that “all in all, a control tower is positive, even for noise abatement.”

A draft of the environmental assessment is available on the Town of East Hampton’s website, www.town.east-hampton.ny.us. The airport will continue to accept written comments on the subject until 5 p.m. on May 13.

Public Hearing for Increasing Fees at East Hampton Airport this Thursday

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On Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. the East Hampton Town Board will host a public hearing on raising landing fees at the East Hampton Airport.

Last week, airport manager Jim Brundige presented a plan to raise landing fees beginning this season. Under his plan, landing fees for single engine aircraft would be raised from $7 to $10 while some helicopters would see an increase in fees from $350 to $500.

Letters to the Editor (2/28/13)

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Effect of Airport Noise

Dear Editor,

The complexities of manmade borders have always been problematic to some degree on the East End; but with recent population/commercial expansion, some border issues have escalated into serious multi-town crises. I am referring to the East Hampton Airport noise control controversy and who gets to decide what amount of noise pollution is acceptable to homeowners other than the homeowners themselves. Shockingly the East Hampton Town government pays no heed to the greater East End area surrounding the airport and furthermore that what they decide about the future of the airport affects only them. They need to hear from Southampton residents that helicopter noise is intolerable and that all flights in and out of the airport need thoughtful community-minded noise abatement management. And to all Southampton residents, you may be unaffected by these hourly sonic boom shockwaves right now, but when property values start to fall as a result, it will certainly affect us all.

John N Linder

Sag Harbor


Rallying for Safety

Dear Editor:

We like safety. We, neighbors in Noyac, are deeply invested in seeing a safe, smart solution to the mess in the Cromer’s / Whalebone parking area that bleeds onto Noyac Road, and now, if plan 7A is implemented, will instead bleed into Pine Neck. In the quiet months before seasonal influx of visitors hungry for summer fun, we can vividly imagine the rumblings of back hoes and cement mixers revving up, and while we chat on the street or in the Noyac Civic Council meetings or in the Southampton Town Hall or over coffee at Cromers, we discuss the alarming calming-one-safety-problem-while-creating-another-problem plan for Noyac Road known as plan 7A. And though it may appear that the deed is done and the opportunity to de-fund the Noyac Traffic Calming “solution” (good luck to those new to the project who will try to dig up plan 7A online) has passed with only an ineffectual Memorializing Resolution issued, we still sense opportunity.

There’s opportunity to know our neighbors and their concerns, to understand the diverse Pine Neck community of ‘year-rounders’ and garner support for amending this plan. Some of us have lived many places, some of us grew up here and stayed, all of us appreciate the rare ‘untouched’ nature of Circle Beach and the boardwalk-like approach to it via Noyac Avenue. This is a diverse neighborhood economically and politically,  a neighborhood of artists, musicians, former CEOs and tradesmen, of dog walkers ambling and first time bike riders pushing off, and parents watching from a distance their child’s first strides of independence while pretending not to watch, because it’s safe.

There’s opportunity to stand up for a broader consideration of safety that includes Pine Neck pedestrians and Noyac Road bike riders, and to see Noyac neighbors coalesce around challenging the excessive expenditures of tax-payer dollars in an overblown plan that compromises the character of a neighborhood without due consideration of environmental impact and pedestrian/bike commuting safety. We can take a step back and do the proper studies that include environmental impact review (SEQR) and make informed choices.

There’s opportunity still to seek efficient, lasting solutions with the community and with Superintendent Alex Gregor, who, though it may be the 11th hour, has graciously met with a few neighbors recently to discuss the ‘concept’ renderings, and who concedes there have been less disruptive (to Pine Neck) plans developed that were shelved. Make no mistake Mr. Gregor is behind the current plan and will be seeking a bid and he has the last word as the project is funded. But I for one left the meeting feeling that he is a good man with a bad plan, and that this push forward has more to do with battle fatigue, and resistance from commercial interests, than with what’s best for Noyac. We remain convinced that there is still opportunity to reach out for public support for a win-win solution, one that addresses the big picture of Noyac’s evolution towards street safety and recreational flow, and hopefully opportunity to undo the mischaracterization of Pine Neck residents as self-serving resistors to a safe solution. I’m proud to see my neighbors are part of the solution and not part of the problem, part of the smart solution, that is.


Susan Bachemin



Show Up


Dear Bryan,

In his recent letter, the Sag Harbor PBA President wrote that I have an “agenda,” but did not explain what he thinks my agenda is concerning the PBA, contracts, and local government. In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. PBA President, what is my agenda?

It is now one month later and still no reply to my simple request to be informed by the PBA President as to what my “agenda” is regarding police unions. I am not surprised, but no matter.

On Saturday, March 9th at 10 a.m. come hear me make my case. I have secured the Pierson High School auditorium and paid for the liability insurance to host this event.  Hey, the least you can do is show up. If nothing else, it will be great theater.

Bottom line….I’m putting myself  “out there” on behalf of local governments across Long Island versus the tyranny of police unions and their destruction of our communities. Because I love government and because I accept our individual responsibility to it, I will have done my part. All you need to do is show up.

Bill Jones

Hampton Bays




Airport Reclassification, Noise Issues Raised at East Hampton Town Board

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A handful of residents approached the East Hampton Town Board during its Thursday, February 21 meeting, concerned about whether or not residents of Noyac would find relief from helicopter traffic this summer season, and the potential reclassification of the East Hampton Airport into a “regional airport” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

During the public portion section of the meeting, Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) member Bob Malafronte confronted the board about the upgrade, asking if the town had any input in this change by the FAA.

On Monday, Quiet Skies Coalition Chair Kathy Cunningham said Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley, who was absent from the meeting, was looking into the issue. However, the QSC remained concerned enough about this situation to send a statement out on Monday morning.

“The Quiet Skies Coalition has just leaned that the FAA, months ago, classified the East Hampton Airport not as a ‘local’ facility but as a ‘regional airport,” the second highest of four categories of General Aviation Airports,” said the organization.

According to the QSC, the four heliports in Manhattan are not classified in any of the four categories – national, regional, lower and basic – although they are also considered general aviation airports.

Although the designation of the East Hampton airport as “Regional” appears in an appendix to a May FAA report, neither airport management nor town board airport liaison, Councilman Dominick Stanzione, has made that designation public, charges QSC.

“I am shocked”, said Cunningham, “that our local airport is seen by Washington as regional. I note that the document including that determination defines ‘regional airports’, in part, as ‘always in a metropolitan area’ where ‘jet and turboprop flying is prominent’ and includes ‘international flying’. These are hardly appropriate descriptions of our airport or our community.”

On Monday, Cunningham said the implication in this classification of the airport is that safety standards will be stricter and more expensive to comply with than what would be required for a basic or local airport, making the argument for FAA funding – and therefore grant restrictions – stronger.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said in an interview that he did not believe the reclassification was something that happened behind closed doors with any member of the town board. While town attorney John Jilnicki was looking into the matter, early research indicated that the FAA reclassified the East Hampton Airport along with about 3,000 other airports based on its usage.

“This is not a case where the town went in and tried to get an upgrade or applied to increase this from local to regional,” he said. “I think it was innocent.”

Wilkinson said Jilnicki was researching what, if any, impact this would have on the airport and the town board would address any issues that arise with the reclassification if it does in fact impact operations or maintenance of the airport.

Noyac Civic Council President Elena Loreto, offering the board a faux olive branch, asked the town board if they would attend a meeting organized by the NCC with members of the Southampton Town Board, Congressman Tim Bishop and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

While the date of that meeting has yet to be scheduled, the board appeared amenable to the idea.

She also asked if there was any hope of relief for residents of Noyac, who bear the full brunt of helicopter traffic after a Jessup’s Neck route into the East Hampton Airport from the North Shore became the lone suggested route for helicopter traffic.

Stanzione said the airport manager and other professionals would be reviewing the noise abatement program and will bring a recommendation to the board within the next 30 to 60 days.

Quiet Skies Coalition Continues Call for Noise Study

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By Kathryn G. Menu

While air traffic may have quieted somewhat now that the off season is here, at last Thursday’s East Hampton Town Board meeting, Quiet Skies Coalition chairwoman Kathy Cunningham renewed a call to ensure any study of the effectiveness of a seasonal air traffic control tower at East Hampton Airport also looks at the impact — or lack thereof — the tower has had on noise pollution.

East Hampton Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley agreed, and said she had spent the last week trying to obtain information to ensure that does in fact happen.

On Thursday, November 15, Cunningham raised the issue in front of the East Hampton Town Board, noting the board was considering a resolution asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval to have a seasonal air traffic control tower at the airport for the 2013 season and thereafter.

For the first time, this past summer, the East Hampton Town Airport had a seasonal air traffic control tower in place, but according to airport liaison, Councilman Dominick Stanzione, needed approval to move forward with the tower next season.

The board would approve that resolution.

However, Cunningham implored the board to ensure a noise abatement program would in fact be studied and implemented by the town.

“There is absolutely no reason there cannot be an airport noise component to this tower,” she said.

Stanzione said the firm Harris, Miller, Miller & Hanson (HMMH) was commissioned to give the board a first draft of protocols on how to study noise some time in the next week. If the town does choose to pursue restrictions at the airport, whether it be curfews or limiting aircraft, taking this route through a FAA part-161 study would give the town the best results to wage such a battle.

Quigley said she had thought it was happening earlier and was confused as to why HMMH was not asked to perform this work sooner but was only commissioned in September despite her believing some forward momentum should have begun in early August.

“Something happened between August 2 and the end of September and that something was nothing,” she said. “I don’t know why. But what they are doing is they are waiting from the data from the control tower people who are supposed to give it to DY [Consultants],” said Quigley referring to the town’s engineers.

Cunningham said she was raising the issue because people were wondering what, if anything, was happening in this arena.

Quigley said a meeting was convened at the airport to discuss noise, on October 26 that she was unaware of. Regardless, Quigley said the documentation she has seen showed a number of questions related to Cunningham’s concerns that would be explored in the study.

Airport Protests Continue in East Hampton

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Following a September 24 meeting of the multi-town helicopter noise committee, where representatives from the East End towns along with members of the Quiet Skies Coalition and the Federal Aviation Administration met to discuss airport noise and flight paths into the East Hampton Airport, this week a series of protests are planned. Next week, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will speak to one of the most affected communities — Noyac — about air traffic noise. That talk will take place at a meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, October 9 at the Bridgehampton Community Center at 7:30 p.m.

In an email sent to its followers, the Quiet Skies Coalition — a not-for-profit made up of East Hampton and Southampton residents — announced two new demonstrations at the East Hampton Airport, located on Daniels Hole Road.

Quiet Skies Coalition chairwoman Kathy Cunningham urged those affected by air traffic to converge for a peaceful demonstration this Wednesday, October 3 and Thursday, October 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The coalition has also planned a march on East Hampton Village on Saturday, October 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. starting at the small park in front of the Ralph Lauren RRL store. The march will follow village sidewalks south along Main Street, looping around John Pappas Café and along the Reutershan lot and back to the park.

Photography by Michael Heller

Throne-Holst & Scalera Face “Hostile” Residents Fed Up With Airport Noise

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By Amy Patton

In a room packed with Noyac residents at the Bridgehampton Community Center Tuesday night, the mood at the Noyac Civic Council’s (NCC) monthly meeting was decidedly hostile. Citizens bombarded Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera with queries regarding official actions they hope will be taken to control airport noise in the area.

The source of the aggravation is air traffic — particularly low-flying helicopters —using East Hampton Airport on a flight path that takes them over Jessup’s Neck on their way to and from Long Island Sound. It’s been a continual annoyance, many residents say, since early summer and an unacceptable burden of noise pollution from the sky.

“It’s certainly more than we’ve had in previous years,” noted Randy Ackerman, who said that the disturbances from aircraft seemed to accelerate over the summer months.

Ackerman, a member of the Noyac Civic Council who has lived on Tredwell Lane with her husband, Gary, for 10 years, added that her street receives a hefty bulk of the daily air traffic burden.

“When they fly over, the windows vibrate and our dog jumps up,” said Ackerman. “We were out in the garden over the past weekend and we could barely hear our conversation.”

Ackerman said that she and her fellow civic council members hope to work on “sharing the burden” of air traffic with residents of East Hampton through a “south shore route” flight path.

“It’s a safety issue as well,” chimed in Elena Loreto, president of the NCC. “With the amount of air traffic traveling over the Noyac area alone, there have been several near-misses of helicopters in the air.”

East Hampton’s airport, she said, “was built originally to serve local recreational pilots. It wasn’t designed to take on this heavy burden of commercial traffic that is impacting local neighborhoods this way.”

Supervisor Throne-Holst spent much of the evening trying to soothe the concerns of the residents, who have had ongoing complaints about aircraft noise. She added that Southampton Town is working on solutions based on the deluge of reports that have been received in the past 10 months from homeowners.

To that end, she added that a meeting will take place Monday, September 17, at Southampton Town Hall to address noise concerns “and find solutions.“ In addition to Throne-Holst and Scalera, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airport management team of East Hampton and representatives from the pilot’s association will be in attendance at that meeting which, she said, is not open to the public.

Another hot-button issue raised at Tuesday’s NCC meeting was the town’s proposed “traffic-calming” plan which has been designed to slow vehicles on Noyac Road in front of two of the halmet’s commercially-zoned properties — Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone General Store.

A raised median separating the commercial lot from the roadway and complete re-construction of Noyac Road (including the addition of a center island) has been proposed by Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor. The plan comes with a reported price tag of $480,000 and it drew vocal ire from a majority of attendees at Tuesday’s meeting.

Most of those who spoke railed against the proposal and agreed that “small steps” are needed instead to slow down traffic in the area. These include devices such as rumble strips, pedestrian crosswalks where drivers are mandated by state law to stop, and even, as a partial solution for traffic calming, blinking yellow “slow” or red traffic lights.

Tom Gustin, who shares a home with his wife in the Pine Neck section of Noyac near Cromer’s and the Whalebone, said traffic and quality of life in that area would be negatively affected by the plan.

“We don’t want it,” he said, to the applause of others in attendance.

Towns Talk Airport Noise as Protests Continue

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

“I don’t mind having some of the noise but should we have to deal with almost all of it,” asked an exasperated Friedman on Tuesday morning. “It was just one after the other and then another and then another.”

On Tuesday, September 4, the East Hampton Town Board discussed this perceived inequality many residents of Southampton have been railing about for most of the summer — since it was announced a Jessup’s Neck route was the sole helicopter route being suggested for those flying into East Hampton Airport from Long Island Sound.

On Tuesday, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he understood this concern and had informed Southampton Town it was by no means the intention of his town board to place the burden of airport noise solely on the shoulders of Southampton residents.

Supervisor Wilkinson mentioned a September 10 meeting, during which it has been proposed that town supervisors and board members from both East Hampton and Southampton would meet with Federal Aviation Association (FAA) representatives, airport managers, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Congressman Tim Bishop, among others, to talk about ensuring airport noise is fairly dispersed and not targeted around one community.

According to a representative with Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office, that September 10 meeting has been cancelled but will be rescheduled shortly.

However, on Tuesday, airport liaison and East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said the multi-town noise advisory committee, made up of elected officials from the five East End towns, as well as airport managers and FAA officials, would meet soon to discuss the issue.

“We have invited the FAA to come in with some of their mapping people to take a close look at the options with adjustments of tweaks to the power line route being used by helicopter pilots,” said Stanzione.

However, Stanzione said that ultimately, after meeting with FAA officials last week, it was clear that helicopter pilots do have a “high level of flexibility when it comes to traversing the skies, not only here on Long Island but across the United States.” He added that voluntary agreements between pilots and air traffic control professionals on preferential routes are the most viable solution given that flexibility.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he believed the board should research both the demographics of who is using the airport and also where people are ultimately going, to ensure a fair distribution is, in fact, fair.

“If 60 percent of the helicopter users are ultimately going into Southampton that should play into the discussion about how to make things equitable,” he said.

Agreeing that was a good suggestion, Stanzione added that ultimately aviation needed to be a discussion that revolved around safety first and foremost.

“So what we deal with from a technical and expert level is what is safe,” said Stanzione. “What is fair may not be safe, so we have to be aware of that.”

“I am just really looking for an understanding of who our airport serves,” said Van Scoyoc. “Does it serve residents or people who come from out of town. And I am not just talking about helicopter traffic, I am talking about jets.”

Airport Protest Mounts Amid Anger over Copter Flightpath

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By Amanda Wyatt

As hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and other jetsetters drove up to East Hampton airport to catch their Sunday afternoon flights, they couldn’t help but notice nearly three dozen disgruntled East End residents demonstrating outside.

Carrying signs that read “Noyac Fed Up with Noise!” and “Stop the Choppers Now!” the protesters—many of whom hailed from Noyac — gathered at the airport on Sunday, August 19 to rally against the recent increase in noise from helicopters and other aircrafts.

While tensions have been brewing for years, for many Noyac residents it hit a boiling point this July when helicopters were reportedly redirected to take a single, northern flight path over parts of Noyac, Sag Harbor, North Sea and Bridgehampton on their way to and from the airport.

At the protest, Kathy Cunningham, chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition (QSC), asserted that the route change had been “made in a very whimsical way.”

“It took helicopters off the northwest route and sent all of them that approach the airport from the north over Jessup’s Neck,” said Cunningham. “It’s the shortest distance between two points for pilots that are landing here, so it’s considered by them faster and more economical.”

The August 19 protest was not an isolated incident. In a little over a week, a number of other measures have been taken to halt what upset residents call “unbearable” aircraft noise.

Among these efforts is a special forum slated for 7 p.m. this Thursday, August 23 at the Bridgehampton Community Center. The Noyac Civic Council (NCC) has confirmed that CongressmanTim Bishop will be in attendance, and they have invited a number of other politicians and airport officials.

This will be the second emergency meeting held by the NCC in two weeks. On August 15, about 50 people from across the East End squeezed into the Old Noyac Schoolhouse for a special forum.

Architect Barry Holden, one of the leaders of the meeting, has also been circulated a petition. The petition, which is at http://signon.org/sign/helicopter-noise-problem, demands action from the Town of East Hampton and airport managers to ameliorate the problem. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 269 signatures.

“The airport is in East Hampton, and yet our township is allowing all the noise and all the traffic to come over us,” Holden said. “The last couple of weeks, the traffic has been unbelievable. It has been going both directions. We’ve had helicopters so close you could see the bolts of their undercarriage.”

East Hampton Deputy Supervisor Theresa K. Quigley and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming were present at the emotionally charged forum.

When Quigley spoke, she was received with angry shouting from several audience members. NCC President Elena Loreto kept order with a makeshift gavel, trying to quiet the rowdy crowd.

“On behalf of East Hampton, I apologize for the changes that have happened,” said Quigley. “I am as upset as you are.”

She encouraged residents to call the town’s noise abatement hotline, (631) 537-LOUD. Data collected from the hotline between June and September will be sent to an outside consulting firm, which will analyze the numbers and determine what steps the airport should take in terms of noise reduction, said Quigley.

However, a number of residents lamented that the hotline was often busy, and that it did not accurately reflect the extent of people affected by airport noise. In fact, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominic Stanzione, the airport liaison, told Fleming that the noise complaints were coming from a few houses.

“I know it’s a pain, but I would encourage you to continue to making complaints,” said Fleming, adding: “My view is that [Stanzione] was a little bit dismissive of what that data was showing.”

At the meeting, Noyac resident John Kirrane suggested staging protests at the airport. He, along with QSC’s Patricia Currie and six others gathered at the airport two days later.

During the rally, several protesters expressed concern over what they believed was a near-collision between two helicopters on August 16.

“There was a near-miss between two helicopters 24 hours ago over Jessup’s Neck between two commuter helicopters,” reported Currie.

However, when airport manager James Brundige looked in his tracking system, there was no indication that a near-miss had occurred.

“I could not find any evidence that that had happened,” he said in a separate interview. “From the ground, it could have looked dangerous.”

“People get the wrong impression of what an airport manager does,” added Brundige. “They think I’m a policeman. I don’t control the airspace.”

While Brundige said that he was willing to have his office work with the East Hampton Town Board, he emphasized that he does not “have any authority.”

At each meeting and protest, airport noise was repeatedly raised as an economic issue. Many people were concerned about the real estate value of their houses declining due to noise. Merle Buff, a realtor, reported she had already started losing deals due to the change in the flight path.

“East Hampton takes in revenue, and Southampton’s cleaning up the mess,” Kirrane said.

However, a number of individuals noted that the airport serves an important economic function for the East End, as a whole. According to Michael Norbeck, a Sag Harbor resident and manager of Sound Aircraft Service, there are 75 full time employees at the airport.

“One of the positive points to the airport is that it brings a ton of money into the economy,” pointed out Norbeck.

At Friday’s protest, one man who had just flown in from Manhattan watched the rally as he waited for a car service. The passenger — who asked for anonymity — said that he flies “constantly” and “all over the world.”

“It’s a convenience,” he explained.

To get to East Hampton from Manhattan by plane, he said, it takes a mere 45 minutes.

“And I understand [the protesters’] concerns and I’m sympathetic,” he said. “But frankly, flying is a way of life.”

Looking at the Impact of Airport Noise

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By Amanda Wyatt

To keep the East End peaceful and quiet, you’ve sometimes got to make a little noise.

At least, that’s according to approximately 40 concerned citizens who attended a forum on aircraft noise held by the Village Preservation Society (VPS) of East Hampton on August 9. The group gathered at the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton to hear from a panel of experts, as well as to voice their own concerns about the growing increase in noise generated by air traffic into the East Hampton Airport.

Theresa K. Quigley, Deputy Supervisor of East Hampton, Bob DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End, Dr. Bonnie Schnitta, President of SoundSense, and planning consultant Peter Wolf all served on the panel to address these concerns.

“Our community is a resort community,” said Quigley at the meeting. “People come here for the peace and tranquility, and the airport, we recognize, interferes with that quiet.”

Panel members noted that in recent years, the growth in the local population has triggered an increase in air traffic. This summer, many East End residents — including those in Sag Harbor, Noyac and North Haven — have been particularly vexed by noise from aircrafts.

Panel members also mentioned that 80 percent of flights come in and out of the airport between Friday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. — exactly when residents and vacationers alike want to relax.

With the exception of a few aircrafts, like emergency airlifts to hospitals, Wolf said, “these planes do not perform any economic function that’s valuable to the town, and they have no real enduring social quality to them.”

Wolf claimed “under one-percent of our community has any use for the airplanes.”

“This is a nuisance, and it should be regulated as a nuisance,” he added.

Wolf suggested a number of tactics for reducing the noise, including reserving airspace, charging higher fees and taking other legal measures to cut back on air traffic.

Dr. Schnitta, whose company specializes in acoustic engineering and design, spoke about the effects of noise on human health. She was particularly concerned about how intermittent noise at night could cause disturbances in sleep.

“Indeed, if it is disturbing to sleep at nighttime, it will cause health problems,” Schnitta said in a separate interview. “We have to protect people when they sleep at night.”

Even if people do not notice noise at night, explained Schnitta, noise can still reduce the quality of sleep, leading to fatigue and poor concentration over time. What’s more, poor sleep is associated with a host of medical woes, including cardiac and intestinal problems.

Although DeLuca, an environmental expert, did not speak about the environmental aspects of noise at the forum, he did mention in an interview that noise can sometimes be disturbing to wildlife. Furthermore, he said that many toxins that come from planes contribute to the quality of air here, which is reportedly somewhat poor to begin with.

“Ongoing management of airports is always a risk with respect to jet fuel, aviation gas and lubricants,” he noted.

At the forum, DeLuca discussed his experience in forming the Community Advisory Board at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

“There might be a road home here which starts with organizing a new committee to look at the future of East Hampton Airport, getting the issues on the table and trying to get those issues before the [East Hampton Town] Board in an organized way,” he said.

However, no decision has been made about the possibility of forming such a coalition, or any other measures. As Kathleen Cunningham, the executive director of VPS and a chairperson of the Quiet Skies Coalition, noted, this was a starting place for further discussions about aircraft noise.

“It’s really the first sign of something concrete in years,” Cunningham said.


Another topic addressed at the meeting was the collection of data on airport noise. This month, the East Hampton Town Board approved a resolution from Quigley to retain an outside company to analyze data taken between June and September.

“In order to get the approval to restrict helicopters, we first have to prove to the FAA that there is an issue that needs addressing,” said Quigley in a separate interview.

Because the airport receives funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the town is not able to restrict airport traffic on its own. Based on the data, the consulting firm hired by the town will determine what restrictions are justified.

For example, Quigley said that the town has voluntary curfews at night for aircrafts. However, until the data is analyzed, the town does not have the authority to make these curfews mandatory.

Still, Quigley said the town is committed to reducing aircraft noise.

“Absolutely, the town has an obligation to deal with this issue, and figure out how they can lessen the burden and make it better for the citizenry,” she said.