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Apr 8, 2008 5:54 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Special meeting on airport plans

Apr 8, 2008 5:54 AM

The East Hampton Town Board will hold a special work session on April 23 at 10 a.m. to review the pending master plan for the East Hampton Airport.

Supervisor Bill McGintee said this week that he hopes the board can decide at the meeting which of three options for the future management of the airport it wishes to set as a goal for the plan.

The options range from cutting back the airport to just one short runway, forcing a reduction in the size of aircraft that can use the facility, to expanding all three runways to make way for more and larger planes.

The middle option is to close one of three runways and improve the other two, along with completing taxiways and aircraft parking ramps. It is seen as the most likely scenario for the board to pursue.

The airport has been without a new master plan since the 1970s. Work on a new plan—which is required by the FAA for federal funding and to win approval for any new airport facilities—has fizzled three times in the last 15 years due to political issues, including resistance to any airport expansion.

The board held a public hearing on the draft master plan, which detailed the three potential options for going forward, last summer. In the interim, the board has agreed to hire a consultant to do a financial analysis of each of the three alternatives to determine what the cost impact of each would be.

Another issue is whether or not the town can undertake maintenance and safety improvements without relying on funding from the ?Federal Aviation Administration. Obtaining that funding requires the town to sign binding agreements with the FAA concerning airport operation and access, something many town officials say they do not want to do. Current agreements have been described as set to expire in 2014.

Supervisor McGintee said that he is hopeful the board can complete work on the master plan by the end of the year.

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