East Hampton Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley will ask for a vote tonight on a resolution directing the town’s airport manager and consultants to begin compiling the data that could help the town gain Federal Aviation Administration approval to restrict helicopter use of the airport.
Ms. Quigley said at a town board meeting on Tuesday that she had discussed with Peter Kirsch, an aviation attorney working for the town, his statement that the town could begin now, even while under F.A.A. strictures tied to federal airport grants, to pursue potential use restrictions that could reduce helicopter noise.
“It’s a statement to constituents saying we are indeed taking action,” she said.
The town’s ability to enact airport use restrictions has been central to a discussion among the board, airport users, and members of the community affected by airport-related noise. Noise-control advocates have taken the position that meaningful local control of the airport will only be possible when the town gets out from under F.A.A. rules, which will expire in the coming years if the town takes no more F.A.A. money. The town board voted late last year to submit an application for a new F.A.A. grant to design an airport perimeter fence, while laying out a plan, with Mr. Kirsch’s help, that members said would include effective F.A.A.-sanctioned noise-control measures.
“I support [Ms. Quigley’s resolution] wholeheartedly,” Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the board’s liaison to the airport, said Tuesday. “It is a necessary precursor, and it really expresses the intent of the board and its understanding that we can begin to act now on airport noise — it is part of an airport master plan. It shows that we want to pursue access restrictions and use restrictions.”
Ms. Quigley warned that the board must be careful not to jump to conclusions about whether the data on noise would ultimately warrant such restrictions. The resolution calls for Jim Brundige, the airport manager, and DY Consultants, a firm that has worked with the town on airport matters, to “assess and evaluate data that has been (and continues to be) collected on noise and operations at the airport for the purpose of providing recommendations to the town board.”
After data from the summer season has been processed, it calls for a report to be prepared within the next three to six months, with conclusions about “whether the data can justify a restriction on operations by helicopters at the airport and, if so, what restriction would be most effective in light of the available data,” and the fiscal impact of adopting restrictions.
Ms. Quigley’s proposal also calls for Mr. Brundige to recommend a procedure for public involvement in the decision-making.
Mr. Stanzione said the noise data analysis was part of the town’s overall airport management plan, “the end point of which is, if necessary, we will pursue access and use restrictions under F.A.A. grant assurances — under current law.”
A recent State Supreme Court decision dismissed a challenge to the town’s adoption of an updated airport master plan, paving the way for the F.A.A.’s full approval of a plan listing future airport projects, Mr. Stanzione said. He said the board should proceed with submitting grant applications to obtain more federal airport money. Several pilots who spoke on Tuesday urged the board to get repairs to runway 4-22 under way.
Ms. Quigley is also asking for the town board’s support of a plan to install fencing that will control access to the tarmac, requiring the public to access the airfield only through the terminal building.
A second resolution she will offer tonight directs the airport manager and consultants to develop a plan for fencing and policies that will address perimeter security, create one or two access points for controlled access by authorized personnel, and create the public route through the terminal.