I write to report on the Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Committee meeting, a continuation of last week's meeting in Southampton, held Monday, September 24, 2012 at Brookhaven Town Hall. The meeting lasted 3 hours and 20 minutes.
East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione chaired and made it very clear from the start that the only goal was to propose route changes to lessen impacts on affected areas in the Town of Southampton. QSC's position not to participate in route distribution discussions, which simply spread the noise around, was a moot point.
The proposed change was for inbound helos to travel over Jessup's Neck to the power lines, which can be flown at higher altitudes offering some noise mitigation, and outbound helos on a route a bit west of and over Barcelona Neck. This proposal would cut helo traffic over the Jessup's Neck route in half. No deadline was given for when the proposed route change would/might occur and it was unclear that this would actually be adopted. Those for whom the route change meant no noise abatement were unhappy and vocal about that dissatisfaction.
East End elected officials acquitted themselves very well on behalf of their constituents; Congressman Tim Bishop, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., North Haven Mayor Laura Nolan, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and Shelter Island Town Supervisor James Dougherty, in particular. Stanzione was put on notice in no uncertain terms that stronger resistance from affected areas would be taken (lawsuits) if reasonable mitigation for all affected residents was not achieved.
Chief elected officers from all the East End towns and villages (save Riverhead and a handful of mayors) got to see for themselves that policy at East Hampton airport is determined by airport users and not by the Town of East Hampton, the airport owner and operator. The Eastern Region Helicopter Council, strengthened by FAA contractual constraints placed on East Hampton through grant assurances, has a stranglehold on how the East Hampton airport functions. The ERHC, not the Town of East Hampton, determines route selection, minimum altitude requirements, hours of operation, numbers and concentrations of flights with the aide and support of Councilman Stanzione and the East Hampton Town Board.
The East Hampton Airport is owned by the taxpayers, and their elected representatives do not govern the operation of this town asset in the best interests of all concerned. That is the responsibility of elected officials. We all recognize that safety is a first priority, but the continued abuse of the citizenry by unlimited, ungoverned aircraft noise in the Town of East Hampton and neighboring communities cannot continue unabated.
Your participation and support have brought us to this unprecedented point. Help us continue to pressure our elected officials to continue this vital quality of life fight.
Help us take back our community before it's too late.