Anti-noise activists who have advocated for reducing helicopter traffic at the East Hampton Airport denounced a recent town press release that claims helicopter noise has gone down since last year.
The press release in question, written by Airport Manager Jim Brundige, asserts that ground-level noise has fallen since last year because helicopters are flying at higher altitudes. Altitudes increased from an average of 2,300 feet to 2,900 feet, Mr. Brundige said.
Helicopter arrivals and departures are also down, he stated. In the first half of 2012, they decreased by 34 percent from last year, and the numbers are 43 percent lower than the first half of 2010.
“Finally, there have been some reports the control tower is only concerned with safety, and not noise abatement,” Mr. Brundige stated in the release. “Such is not the case … There is no question that our controllers are working hard to mitigate noise in neighborhood communities.”
The Quiet Skies Coalition, an anti-noise group, fired back with its own press release on Monday.
“We were expecting airport propagandists to mount a disinformation campaign insisting that the tower is addressing noise abatement, in complete contrast to what was publicly and authoritatively stated at the [June 30] informational meeting by the air controllers themselves,” said Kathleen Cunningham, the chairwoman of the group. “We were surprised, however, that the disinformation campaign was begun by Mr. Brundige.”
The coalition’s release also pointed out that Mr. Brundige doesn’t address noise from other aircraft besides helicopters, such as “jets, seaplanes and touch and goes.” They also criticized Mr. Brundige for providing no noise measurement data on which he bases his claims.
According to Mr. Brundige in the release, an automated noise complaint hotline received 1,127 noise complaints from 94 different households in June. Of those, five homes filed 610 noise complaints—or about half of the total month’s claims. Twenty homes filed about 80 percent of the complaints, he stated.
East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said the early results are “encouraging” since the town installed an air traffic control tower at the site.
“Facts are facts,” he said. “Helicopter noise is significantly less this year in than in the last two years. Altitudes are higher and there were fewer helicopter flights. The new tower will help produce even better results. Is there more work to do? Absolutely. The control tower is an important new tool in our toolbox.”