Fly Neighborly - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2204387

Fly Neighborly

The surprising number of complaints filed recently by Wainscott residents against East Hampton Airport [“Complaints About Aircraft Noise From East Hampton Airport Continue To Flood In, Especially From a Few,”, September 13] shines light on East Hampton’s dirty secret: many residents south and east of the airport have long lived free from aviation noise and pollution, while a disproportionate number of flights have been directed across Town Line, above East Hampton’s helpless neighbors. Aviation noise and pollution is unbearable and unhealthy wherever it is directed, but should not surprise Wainscott residents — the airport is in their backyard.

Wainscott residents, like many others in the town, have long ignored Southampton residents’ pleas for relief. Last year, Wainscotters experienced what has so riled their neighbors: They became the victims of round-trip helicopter flights. That torment lessened this summer, when only departing helicopters flew the shortest route to the South Shore.

Approach and departure routes to East Hampton Airport are decided annually, by aviation insiders who target which East Hampton communities near the airport and which of East Hampton’s neighbors will be tormented, while most of East Hampton escapes the unrelenting assaults.

At an East Hampton Town work session on May 16, a Blade representative summed up the annual route discussion on videotape: “We want to make sure that we alleviate noise from East Hampton … that’s the goal we all have.” Finally, an admission that route discussions focus on protecting East Hampton residents, at the expense of others.

East Hampton Town Board members claim zero involvement in route decisions, yet two participants (airport manager, and chief of air traffic control) are paid by East Hampton Town. The third, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, represents out-of-state aircraft operators and ticket sellers like Blade. No East Hampton resident, or residents from heavily impacted neighboring towns, have been included in route discussions. There’s no transparency, and no flying neighborly.

This year, all incoming helicopters and most seaplanes and small planes (many making multiple round-trips daily carrying passengers to/from Gabreski) and more jets were again directed over Southampton near “November,” formerly known as the dangerous “power line” route. Southampton residents are furious at decades of shameful decisions by East Hampton Town that knowingly, willfully and repeatedly exposed them to the toxic dangers of East Hampton airport operations.

If the East Hampton Town Board refuses to close the airport, the town must accept air traffic within East Hampton borders and take responsibility for harm to the public health and our environment. Proposed access restrictions to East Hampton Airport won’t prevent those dangers, and East Hampton Town is likely to repeat its actions and continue to direct a disproportionate number of flights over us, from Noyac to Hampton Bays, unless disenfranchised residents demand change.

Contact candidates, write officials — your fast-eroding quality of life is at stake.

Patricia Currie