Tag Archive | "east hampton town board"

A Mighty Wind Blows Our Way

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London Array, an offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom that produces enough energy to power 500,000 homes a year. Photo courtesy London Array Limited.

By Mara Certic

The East Hampton Town Board made history last month when it became the first town in New York State to establish the goal of meeting all the town’s electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. A proposed 200-megawatt wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk Point could produce up to a fifth of those expected energy needs.

The goals have been described in the media as “lofty,” but renewable energy professionals are adamant that they are not just tilting at windmills—this battle can be won.

In just four years, an old energy substation on the east end of Long Island is slated to become one of the first in the United States to connect to and be powered by a large offshore wind farm. Deepwater Wind, of Rhode Island, won a bid to develop a 256-square-mile area in 2013. Its current proposal is to install 35 six-mega-watt turbines, which would supply the five East End towns with 200 megawatts of energy.

Extending 550 feet from the water line to the tip of the blade when fully extended, the turbines really are “quite large,” according to Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind. Each turbine is pretty much equivalent in size to the Washington Monument which, at 555 feet tall, is the tallest structure in the District of Columbia. Deepwater Wind officials maintain that the turbines will be installed “over the horizon” and therefore will not be visible from any point in Long Island.

Established in 2005, Deepwater Wind is dedicated exclusively to offshore wind and focuses predominantly in the Northeast, from New Jersey to New England. This is the area, according to Mr. Grybowski, where company officials believe offshore wind farms are most likely to be established first “mainly because there are relatively few options in the Northeast for building large-scale renewable energy.” He added that the offshore wind resource here is “one of the strongest in the world.”

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 4.18 percent of all generated electricity in the United States comes from onshore wind power. Deepwater Wind’s demonstration-scale project three miles southeast of Block Island is on track to become America’s first offshore wind farm in 2016.

As any seaman will tell you, offshore wind is stronger than wind traveling over land, providing Long Island with “a great opportunity,” according to David Alicea of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Deepwater ONE—the name for the project off of Montauk—would deliver power to an existing LIPA-owned substation on the South Fork via transmission cables buried below roads. Deepwater Wind claims that this specific project could provide electricity to more than 120,000 houses, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

“Offshore wind really is the best way,” Mr. Alicea said. The 122-year-old Sierra Club, founded by conservationist John Muir, is the biggest non-profit environmental organization in the United States. According to Mr. Alicea, for the past few years, climate change has come to the forefront of environmental issues the organization focuses on because it “really connects to everything.”

“I think Super Storm Sandy is what made it really apparent to the Long Islanders, that there’s a real risk here,” he said.  “But the geography that threatens us also provides us with a solution.”

He stressed the importance of ensuring that the project be good for the environment in every way, and that Deepwater Wind is indeed doing its due diligence to prevent any undesirable ecological impacts. “They have agreed to be really mindful in their construction and they’ve been a great partner to work with for a number of environmental groups,” he said.

But Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, does not share Mr. Alicea’s optimism about the project. “It’s like anything in life,” she said about the proposed wind farm. “If it sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”

Ms. Brady’s concerns about Deepwater ONE range from disrupting air traffic (“They have to put lights on them, but then there are these little things called planes!”) to noise pollution (“What travels best on water? Sound.”) Her main worry, however, is the effect that she predicts the wind farm will have on the fishing industry.

“This is an industrial event on the ocean floor and it’s a big deal,” she said. “People hear the word ‘green’ and they think it’s passive and green. This is pile-driving the ocean floor. What do you think a little pile-driving is going to do to [fish]?” Potentially disrupt their habitats and migratory patterns, she fears.

According to Lauren Thompson, an environmental consultant in the renewable energy sector in the United Kingdom, who was interviewed by email, these concerns are legitimate. The United Kingdom currently has 22 operational offshore wind farms and over 50 more in development. Part of her job, she explained, is to help minimize the environmental and social impacts of offshore wind farms.

Effects on migratory bird paths, marine mammal feeding and breeding grounds, fish-spawning grounds, erosion and noise pollution are all meticulously studied and assessed over a period of several years, she said.

Most of these impacts are “carefully considered during the development phase, and minimized as far as possible,” said Ms. Thompson. “Wind farm developers are required to consult with environmental and fishing groups closely during the planning process to reach agreement on which measures will be used.”

Merlin Jackson, a fisherman based out of Ramsgate Harbor in Kent, England, who was interviewed by email, believes that the studies haven’t gone far enough. He claims to have experienced environmental side effects of several nearby offshore wind farms. “There is no doubt that these farms have had an effect on the fishermen here,” he said. “But it remains to be seen how far-reaching that will be and whether the benefits will outweigh the negatives.”

Mr. Jackson said that in addition to the scientific surveys done by developers, “there are many other surveys and site specific studies that could be put in place to make the impacts clearer and to gain the confidence of the fishermen.”

Ms. Thompson explained that in the United Kingdom, even after environmental studies and consultations have been conducted, developers, in general, end up paying compensation to fishermen if they disrupt their normal fishing grounds during construction.

“You need to pay [the fishermen] for that privilege,” said Ms. Brady. “They need to bring their checkbooks.”

Architect and chairman of the Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee Frank Dalene, however, feels that their worries might be exaggerated. He maintained that although there are legitimate arguments and concerns about offshore wind farms, “it’s really a benign impact.”

“In Europe there are 2,500 wind farms offshore in 11 countries, producing almost 10 gigawatts of energy,” he said. “It’s already developed [there], which is a great way to dispel myths.”

He spoke about a plan to take concerned fishermen on the East End to those European countries where they can see the actual effects of offshore wind farms on the industry. Mr. Dalene added that continuing to burn fossil fuels would have “a more lasting impact on the fishery.”

“We could be one of the first in the country to do this and really make this transition away from fossil fuels,” said Mr. Alicea. Matt Kearns, a Long Island-native and dedicated member of the Sierra Club, is determined for that to happen.

He is so determined that on Saturday, June 14, Mr. Kearns will be running 100 miles, from the Montauk Lighthouse to the Long Beach Boardwalk, just to make a point.

“As a runner I wanted to do something that would connect coastal areas that could benefit from building job-creating offshore wind,” he said. “We’re showing that although Long Island families are at risk from worsening climate disruption, we also have the resources to help solve it by building renewable offshore wind.”

The run, Mr. Alicea said, aims to demonstrate to the powers that be that Long Island is behind the plan. He added that a poll done by the Sierra Club showed 80 percent of Long Islanders support offshore wind farming.

Mr. Alicea, and the Sierra Club, are using the run to demonstrate to Governor Cuomo, LIPA and PSEG that the East End is ready and that this is what they want. “A lot of it hinges on the governor. He’s been really involved in Long Island’s energy policy and making all these decisions,” he said. “If he gives the green light and says New York State is behind this, they’ll do it.”

Environmental studies have already begun for the Deepwater ONE site and when completed, if the project is approved and accepted by the power authorities, wind energy could be responsible for turning on East Hampton’s lights as early as 2018.

Gordian Raacke, the founder of Renewable Energy Long Island,  said “People are afraid of it because it’s something new and something different. It’s like everything else; change is always scary and meets some resistance. But people have to have a change to experience it.”

East Hampton Town Commits to 100% Renewable Energy by 2030

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By Mara Certic

Environmental advocates celebrated last Thursday the inclusion of East Hampton Town on a list of communities that are committed in the long term to obtaining all of their energy from renewable sources.

The town board voted unanimously to establish the ambitious goal of using renewable energy to meet all of the community’s electricity needs by the year 2020, becoming the first town in the state to set such a goal.

The town intends to meet an equivalent renewable energy goal for the heating, transportation and waste management sectors by the year 2030.

“We are dumping 90 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere on a daily basis,” said Gordian Raacke, founder of Renewable Energy Long Island at an East Hampton Energy and Sustainability forum on  Thursday, May 22. “If we continue business as usual we would get into catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change,” he said.

“Electricity makes up half of [our carbon] emissions so we can tackle that first half very quickly because we have all our tools in our toolbox, particularly in the electric sector, to generate electricity from renewable resources,” said Mr. Raacke, who is also a member of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee.

According to Mr. Raacke, Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in all sectors by 2050.

“Which means essentially we have to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources,” said Mr. Raacke.

“If someone hears this they may go: ‘Wow, that’s a lofty goal,’” said Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee chairman Frank Dalene. “It’s a high goal, but the energy sustainability committee has already recommended three RFP’s to the town.”

Mr. Dalene was referring to a proposed solar generating facility at the East Hampton Airport, an offshore wind farm 30 miles off of Montauk Point and smaller solar installations proposed for 10 town-owned lots.

“The Deepwater Wind ONE project will be around 200 megawatts. According to their news release, it will generate power for the five East End towns,” said John Botos, an environmental technician for the Town of East Hampton’s Natural Resources Department.

Mr. Botos explained that East Hampton currently uses 20 percent of the electricity consumed by the five East End towns. Therefore, it would only be able to count on 20 percent of the wind farm’s output against its 100-percent goal should the farm come to fruition.

“However, if we count this plus the output from the 70 megawatts of solar proposals, we would achieve slightly more than 100 percent of our current communitywide electricity consumption,” he added.

“We don’t know if they will actually produce this much energy,” Mr. Dalene said about the three proposals. “But we as a committee are not going to stop.”

Mr. Raacke said in Thursday’s meeting that his house, along with many on the East End, is powered entirely by renewable energy. The town has a solar fast-track permitting process, and decisions are made in 14 days or less. The fee has been waived for solar permit applications as an incentive for residents.

“Not everyone is going to be able to afford solar panels,” said Mr. Botos.  But PSEG Long Island, he explained, offers a slew of tax rebate programs for those who choose to switch their homes to use renewable energy; a 30-percent federal tax credit is also available, he said.

“However, it will soon be possible to get solar panels installed with a low-interest loan from New York State and pay it back through on-bill financing on utility bills,” he said. “This means that households could afford solar panels, as there is no upfront cash required.”

The committee stressed that this goal also presents a great economic opportunity, creating jobs and keeping money in the local economy.

Mr. Botos emphasized the importance of public participation in attaining the sustainability goal, which will be augmented by “unplugged” campaigns at schools, community outreach and involvement.

The first step, the committee explained, is to reduce energy consumption. “You’ll waste money on your solar panels if you don’t reduce your energy consumption first,” warned Mr. Dalene.

Mr. Botos recommended that all residents take advantage of the free federally funded home energy audit, and take measures to make their homes more energy-efficient.

“There are a variety of other ways people can get involved. For example, turn off the ‘stand-by’ feature on TVs and gaming systems and unplugging electronics when they are not being used,” he said. “It isn’t enough to just generate electricity from renewable energy, but it is equally important to reduce consumption.”

The simple switch to LED light bulbs makes a difference, he said. The natural resources department has a variety of reimbursement forms on PSEG rebates for a wide array of household appliances.

Towns, cities and countries worldwide have made similar renewable energy goals; Aspen’s goal of using 100-percent renewable energy by the year 2015 is already 75 percent complete.

“All of the studies agree that we can do this, we have the financial wherewithal to make this happen,” said Mr. Raacke. “All that was lacking is the political will and that’s what we now have in this town.”

555 Amagansett Requests Adjournment

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The applicants behind 555 Amagansett, a project that entails the rezoning of acreage on Montauk Highway in Amagansett, requested in advance of Thursday night’s East Hampton Town Board meeting, that the board table its request for new zoning to a later date yet to be determined. The current application would create a senior housing overlay district for the creation of a market-rate senior housing community.

The project has taken heat in recent months, with critics contending the application was being fast tracked by the East Hampton Town Board before a new majority takes office in January.

“We have heard various concerns of the community and agree that allowing more time to meet with members of the community, as well as the newly elected officials of the East Hampton Town Board, will allow a more constructive dialogue regarding the future of the 555 property,” said the developers, Putnam Bridge, in a statement issued last week.

Split East Hampton Town Board Adopts Airport Capital Improvement Plan

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By Kathryn G. Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Hampton: Overton, Burke-Gonzalez Earn Town Board Seats

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Supervisor elect Larry Cantwell with running mates Job Potter and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez on Tuesday night at Democratic Party headquarters at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board will welcome two new members this January with the election of Democrat Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican candidate Fred Overton during Tuesday’s town elections.

According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Overton — the town clerk — had the most support with 3,216 votes or 28.2 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday’s town board race. Burke-Gonzalez followed with 3,125 votes, carrying 27.4 percent of the vote. Her running mate, Democrat Job Potter, placed third with 2,764 votes, followed by the lone incumbent in Tuesday’s town board race, Republican Dominick Stanzione, who earned 2,293 votes.

For Overton, who is not affiliated with any party, but ran with the support of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, Tuesday’s election to the town board extends his career in public service, which began 50 years ago.

“I ran on my record,” said Overton Wednesday morning. “I have served this community for 50 years, working in the town as assessor and then town clerk for 25 years. People know me. They know I am fair and reasonable and I act with common sense and I think that resonated with people.”

Overton will join a town board made up entirely of Democrats, including Supervisor-elect Larry Cantwell, Burke-Gonzalez and incumbents Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc.

“If I am going to be of any value to the community I have to develop a working relationship with the board,” said Overton. “I have worked with Sylvia and Peter for two years, I am lifelong friends with Larry, so I think I have a head start.”

“It’s been an incredible, incredible journey,” said Burke-Gonzalez Wednesday. “It was a growth experience for me and the support I got from this community was so incredibly rewarding.”

Burke-Gonzalez, a Springs resident and former member of the Springs School Board of Education, credited her family’s involvement in the community for giving her an edge in the race.

“I think people related to the fact that we are working people and this was an opportunity to give a voice to working people,” said Burke-Gonzalez. “On the school board I am also a firm believer in participatory leadership. I don’t have all the answers and I never will. I want to hear what other people think.”

Cantwell, the former East Hampton Village administrator who ran unopposed in his bid for supervisor, said Wednesday the town will face serious challenges in the next two years.

“I am looking forward to working with each one of the new members of the town board,” said Cantwell. “We will invite Fred Overton to be a full participant in all of our decisions. I want him to feel included in what we do. If any of us disagree, I expect we will do it with respect and appreciation of each other’s point of view, but the overall goal will be to do what is right for this community.”

“We have a requirement to address regional issues,” continued Cantwell. “I extend my hand to [Southampton Town Supervisor] Anna Throne-Holst, I extend my hand to [Sag Harbor Mayor] Brian Gilbride and [East Hampton Village Mayor] Paul Rickenbach, and all of the East End mayors and supervisors to do all we can do to preserve the Peconic Estuary, address airport issues and look at transportation.”

In other East Hampton election news, Democrat Steven Tekulsky was successful in his bid for town justice, besting Republican Carl Irace, and Eugene De Pasquale III was re-elected as the town assessor over Republican challenger Joseph Bloecker. In the town trustee race Deborah Klughers, Stephen Lester, Timothy Bock, Stephanie Talmage-Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Diane McNally, Nathaniel Miller, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles earned election to that board. In uncontested races, Carol Brennan was elected town clerk and Stephen Lynch earned a second term as the town’s superintendent of highways.

Demos Announces Candidacy for Congress

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Republican and former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer George Demos officially filed papers this week to run for Congress, sending an email and video to supporters and media Monday morning announcing his decision.

Seeking to unseat Congressman Tim Bishop, Demos will have to face off in a primary next year against Saint James businessman Randy Altschuler, who bested Chris Cox and Demos in a primary battle in 2010. Altschuler narrowly lost to Bishop in one of the closest elections races in the country last year.

“More than ever we see how important it is, not just to elect someone with an R next to their name, but to elect a real Conservative with steely determination who will not fail us, who will not falter, and who will not waiver when he gets to Washington,” said Demos in a statement.

Altschuler, who announced his decision to run for Congress in 2012 in June, already has the garnered the support of the Republican and Conservative party leaders in Suffolk County.

“We need to learn from last year’s mistakes and not let divisions within our own party allow Tim Bishop to sneak back into office again,” said County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said in a statement released to media on Monday. “Our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis, and we need a business leader like Randy Atlschuler in Washington to fix it.”

“Today’s announcement by George Demos has no impact on our strategy moving forward,” said Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell. “Randy is humbled by the broad support he’s receiving from Republican and Conservative Party leaders, and he’s focused on holding Tim Bishop accountable for the mess in Washington and defeating him next November.”

Bishop, currently serving his fifth term, has already said he will seek a sixth term in 2012.

26 Acres in Wainscott Purchased by East Hampton Town

The East Hampton Town Board approved a $3.2 million purchase of 26-acres in Wainscott through the Community Preservation Fund after holding a public hearing during its Thursday, August 4 meeting.

The property consists of exactly 25.7 acres at 198 Six Pole Highway near the intersection of Route 114, just outside the Village of Sag Harbor. The purchase was supporting by the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society at the Thursday evening meeting.

An additional acre on the same property has already been promised to an adjacent cemetery, which will be given the land through a lot line modification, according to a resolution passed by the board on the purchase of the land.

Thiele Continues to Survey Local Gas Prices

In his ongoing crusade to bring fair gas prices to the East End, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. submitted a third report this week to the State Attorney General detailing illegal zone pricing of gasoline on the Twin Forks.

However, according to the survey, gas prices have become more equitable and have stabilized over the last two weeks when compared to other regions in New York.

In the August 7 survey, the most prevalent price on the South Fork for gasoline was $3.99 a gallon or lower at nine stations located on Montauk Highway between East Hampton and Sunrise Highway. The lowest price was $3.97 and the highest $4.09. The average price is about $0.05 lower than the Long Island Average, and $0.04 more than the state average.

“Gasoline prices are still too high,” said Thiele in a written statement. “However, they have remained stable over the last two weeks. The differential between the South Fork and the rest of Long Island remains small with prices between East Hampton and Southampton slightly lower than the Island-wide average. The differential with the North Fork, which has the lowest gasoline prices on Long Island, was around $0.35 on the South Fork on Memorial Day. It is now about $0.10.”

However, the Assembly added that Amagansett and Montauk continue to face higher gas prices than the rest of the region. There, according to Thiele, gas prices are more than $.30 cents above the Long Island average.

“Amagansett and Montauk are clearly paying too much,” said Thiele. “This is why we need a stronger zone pricing law and open supply legislation.”

Thiele first contacted the attorney general’s office after Memorial Day weekend gas prices on the South Fork remained at $4.25 cents per gallon, while the rest of Long Island averaged around $4.08, and the rest of New York State averaged $4.02.

Thiele has also sponsored legislation to strengthen New York’s existing law on zone pricing of gasoline – when an arbitrary price is assigned to gasoline based on geography rather than the wholesale or legitimate cost of the product.

Thiele has also sponsored open supply legislation that would enable gas stations to purchase cheaper motor fuel on the wholesale market from alternative suppliers and pass the savings on to the consumer.

Governor Signs Southampton CPF PILOT Legislation

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that resolve some of the issues raised in a state comptroller’s audit of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) PILOT payments by the Town of Southampton.

The legislation was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle.

The audit, completed in November of 2010, found that in the years 2008 and 2009 the Town of Southampton had made payments from the CPF to school and special districts that exceeded the amount permitted by State law by $664, 647. In particular, the Riverhead School District and the Eastport-South Manor School District received excessive payments, according to the report. The State Comptroller directed the town to resolve the issue in his report.

Under the proposed legislation, the overpayments would be legally validated and the school districts would be absolved from having to make any repayment. The town will be legally responsible to restore the excess payment to the fund either by dedicating land or providing non-CPF funds equal to or greater than the overpayment.

“The Town of Southampton made overpayments of CPF monies for PILOTS in 2008 and 2009,” said Thiele “This has been confirmed by the state comptroller. It was imperative that these funds be restored to be used for the rightful purpose of land preservation. This legislation insures that will happen. It also insures that local school taxpayers will not be punished for a mistake that they did not make. The school districts will be held harmless. Further, the Town will be permitted to use funds, such as impact fees collected from developers, to replenish the fund. This legislation will maintain the integrity of the CPF, while insuring that neither school nor town property taxpayers have to bear the burden of the repayment.”

The legislation also establishes additional requirements for PILOT payments in the future to ensure that such overpayments never happen again. The new law provides that in determining payments to each school and special district, each parcel eligible for a PILOT payment shall be assessed in the same manner as state land is and that the assessment for each parcel is approved by the state. The new law also states that not more than ten percent of the CPF may be used for these purposes. The maximum percentage of 10% for such purposes may be reduced by a proposition approved by the voters.

Finally, the new law requires the town board to adopt an annual plan, after input through a public hearing, which specifies each eligible parcel and provides the amount of payment for each eligible parcel.

Town Moves Toward Keeping All Runways

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The Springs Fire House was filled with local pilots on Tuesday morning concerned over plans to possibly eliminate runway 4-22 at the East Hampton Airport.
Representing the Save East Hampton Airport Group, Bill Esseks informed the board that 100 percent of Long Island airports have a runway similar to 4-22. The runway runs in a southwesterly direction to accommodate the prevailing winds in the area.
Tom Gibbons told the board that every one knows the safest way to land and take off, particularly in a small aircraft, is into the wind. And local pilot Bruno Schwenk said not only do pilots know that, but ducks and geese do as well.
The controversy over 4-22 began at a work session two weeks ago when the town board was discussing the airport layout plan that has been in the works for over two years. It had been decided at another work session that the plan would focus on repairing and maintaining runway 4-22, which has been shut down for over a decade, to be used as the secondary runway at the airport. However at the work session two weeks ago, the option of making runway 16-34 the secondary runway instead of 4-22 was discussed.
Town Councilwoman Julia Prince recalled the meeting and said, “It was presented [by the consultants] to us to scratch 4-22 and go with 16-34 instead.”
The rationale was because the take off patterns for 4-22 go directly over residential neighborhoods. She said, though, that the missing information at that work session was the notion of the prevailing winds.
Town supervisor Bill McGintee tried to calm the crowd on Tuesday, saying, “The discussion two weeks ago was not meant to abandon 4-22. It was meant to take a harder look at 16-34.”
Audience members on Tuesday speculated that the need to take a harder look at 16-34 was politically motivated.
“The town board was not stupid in 1932 when it created three runways,” said Tom Twomey. “They built all three for a good reason. So why would you decide all of a sudden to cut out a runway? I’ll tell you why. Political influence from neighbors.”
McGintee said the town was not in the position of ignoring those neighbors’ concerns.
“It’s easy to say, they built by the airport so the hell with them; but we don’t have the luxury of doing that,” said the supervisor.
Also debated on Tuesday was whether or not the town should accept money from the Federal Aviation Administration. Currently the town is working on a financial model to see whether or not the airport can be self-sustaining without help from the FAA. Critics in the audience said the only reason not to take the money from the FAA would be a political one as well.
Local pilot Bill Berkowski said the way he saw it, the town’s hesitancy to approve FAA funding was because they would have less control over the airport. He said taking money from the FAA would not allow the town to close down a runway during the day to appease those who may be “sipping tea on their front porches.”
Prince said on Wednesday, “Personally I think it would be unwise to not accept money from the FAA. Regardless of whether or not we accept it, they still kind of have their say. They control the place.”
She said the assumption over the years has been if the town accepts funding from the outside agency, they would not have control over the airport. She said, though, even if the town refuses funding, the FAA still runs the show to an extent.
It was decided on Tuesday that the town would move forward with a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on alternative two of the airport layout study. That alternative makes 4-22 the secondary runway and also utilizes 16-34 as an alternate runway.
“We are closer to finalizing this than anybody has been in along time,” said the supervisor, referring to two abandoned layout studies over the past two decades. “And we will get this done, if not to the full satisfaction of everybody, but at least to a passing grade of satisfaction.”

Top Photo: Tom Twomey addresses the audience at Tuesday’s brown bag session at the Springs Firehouse in East Hampton.