At an East Hampton Town Board meeting last Thursday, April 5 board members unanimously approved a resolution for the construction of a portable control tower for the East Hampton Airport.
The cost of the project, estimated to be about $360,000, would be paid for by the appropriate airport budget account. In other words, funds generated by the airport, which by law must be used for the airport, according to East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione.
The seasonal control tower is a type II action, which means the board didn’t formally have to seek a SEQRA report before approving construction. However, due to the importance of the subject matter, Stanzione requested an environmental review, prepared by the town, which he presented at a work session last week.
He said in an interview this week that he hoped the tower—which would only take about one month to construct—would be up and running by the beginning of the summer season, May 31.
The control tower would be staffed by an air-traffic controller provided by Robinson Aviation out of New Haven, CT, a company which, Stanzione pointed out, is approved by the FAA.
For Stanzione, the control tower is an important step toward decreasing the amount of noise produced by aircraft flying into the East Hampton Airport in Wainscott.
Most of the noise, he said at last week’s work session, “is caused by 10 percent of the users of the airport, who don’t observe our voluntary regulations.”
These regulations include restricting flight times between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., as well as making sure all aircraft maintains an altitude of 2,500 feet for as long as possible before touching down in East Hampton.
Stanzione said the control tower would help achieve higher levels of compliance among all aircrafts. With the control tower, he argued, the town would go “from an already outstanding 90 percent compliance—thanks to airport management—to an outstanding 100 percent using the federal regulations of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration].”
While Quiet Skies Coalition member Kathy Cunningham said she supported the idea of installing a control tower in East Hampton, she’s still on the fence about whether or not the move will successfully limit noise.
“We’ve never been against the control tower in theory,” she said on behalf of the Quiet Skies Coalition at a work session last Tuesday, April 10. “We just don’t know what it will do.”
The Quiet Skies Coalition is a group of concerned residents from across the East End, which formed last summer in opposition to the town accepting money from the FAA. While the town’s FAA contract will expire in 2014, should it accept more FAA funding before then, that partnership would extend at least into 2020.
The Quiet Skies Coalition feels East Hampton Town would be able to better regulate aircrafts with it’s own rules and regulations, without adhering to what the FAA deems permissible.
Simply put, she continued, “It’s untested. To be fair, you don’t really know what the results [of implementing a seasonal control tower] are going to be,” she added. “After this summer we’ll know.”