Despite a delay in the preparation of an important environmental document that will help guide the future of the East Hampton Airport, the town has hired a firm to help prepare the installation of a seasonal control tower at the airport in time for summer.
At a public meeting on December 18, the board hired Robinson Aviation of Falls Church, Virginia, which employs more than 500 air traffic control specialists, to prepare an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to designate East Hampton Airport as controlled airspace and to prepare plans for a seasonal control tower, which would be housed in a trailer at the airport. The firm will also provide air traffic control services to the town.
Many aviation professionals believe the institution of controlled airspace and a control tower will help the town to better manage the large number of noisy aircraft, particularly helicopters, that use the airport in the summer, while many who live near the airport believe that the installation of a control tower will only make the airport a more popular destination.
Robinson Aviation’s services are expected to cost the town $164,580 per year, which will be paid by a fund that is dedicated to the airport and is separate from the town’s operating budget.
Also in mid-December, the town extended its deadline to finish a final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the master plan for the airport from December 31, 2009 to March 31, 2010, due in part to the massive number of detailed comments on the plan received at a public hearing on the draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement in September.
The town had initially planned to have its Planning Department prepare responses to the comments, but Planning Director Marguerite Wolffsohn told the board in early December that she thought it would be wise if the responses were prepared by Young Environmental Sciences, the firm that prepared the draft EIS, because of the complexity of legal issues and potential for litigation.
Henry Young’s additional work, which is expected to cost the town $36,500, was approved by the Town Board on December 18, 2009.
“The best thing the town can do is make sure any document we can adopt is going to hold up before a judge,” said Councilman Pete Hammerle.