The Elephant in the Room

    A meeting on the regional impact of helicopter noise and traffic out of East Hampton Airport took place in Southampton on Monday, hosted by Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southampton Councilwoman Christine Scalera, and Congressman Tim Bishop. No representative of East Hampton Town, which owns the airport, was present.
    A recent change in helicopter routing, taking more of them over Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and Noyac, prompted the meeting. Representatives of civic groups, some formed specifically for the purpose, attended Monday’s meeting. The goal was to ease the noise burden on any one area.
    A multitown helicopter noise committee will meet on Monday in Brookhaven. That meeting is expected to include East Hampton Town Board members, advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration, and representatives of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. According to a release issued by Ms. Throne-Holst on Tuesday, the Southampton group intends to bring up for discussion flight curfews, restricting aircraft takeoffs and arrivals, altitude guidelines, and clarifications regarding East Hampton Town’s obligations to the F.A.A. under grant assurances, which are agreements as to airport operation put in place when federal money is accepted.
    Supervisor Throne-Holst said the Southampton group would also review East Hampton Airport flight data, and plans to present a “multipronged proposal” for consideration. She called the meeting in Southampton “a productive first step towards achieving measurable relief” for affected residents of the town. “I call on those who can make this a reality to join us on the 24th with that positive and productive mindset in place,” she said.
    “Ultimately, the goal of this ongoing process is to reduce the overall burden of aircraft noise on all residents of the East End, and all options should be put on the table for evaluation,” said Mr. Bishop. “While the East Hampton Airport is under local control, I am committed to working with all stakeholders including the F.A.A. to negotiate and implement a long-term solution to this serious quality-of-life issue.”
    Kathleen Cunningham, the chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition, which participated in this week’s discussion, said in her own press release that it was unfortunate that neither East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson nor Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the town board’s airport liaison, was at the meeting. Neither was Jim Brundige, the airport manager.
    “Longtime airport noise abatement advocates are frustrated by the lack of coherence in East Hampton’s approach to airport noise mitigation as there is no plan or obvious relationship between decisions affecting residents and their peaceful enjoyment of their homes and properties, and airport assets, such as the recently installed seasonal air traffic control tower, long touted as a noise abatement tool,” she said.
    At an East Hampton Town Board work session on Tuesday, Mr. Wilkinson said that he would be at next week’s meeting.