The East Hampton Aviation Association, the group that has vociferously defended East Hampton Airport against what it says are unreasonable efforts to limit its use and even shut it down, last week asked the East Hampton Town Board to delay a hearing on the airport capital plan until after the administration of Supervisor-elect Larry Cantwell settles in.
Gerald Boleis, the association’s president, made the request in a letter to Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson dated Nov. 9. It requests that the hearing, originally set for next Thursday, be postponed “until at least February 2014 to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the plan prior to the public hearing.”
The move might appear to be an olive branch to airport opponents, but Mr. Boleis said yesterday that it was simply in recognition of the slow pace of the political process.
“Realistically, nothing is going to happen between now and the end of the year,” he said. “Whatever resolution they do now, the board could change next year.”
The current Republican majority on the board has been friendly toward the airport and could reasonably be expected to pass a capital plan to its liking before turning off the lights and passing its office keys to the new Democratic majority.
Mr. Cantwell said during the campaign that he doubted accepting Federal Aviation Administration grants would have an impact on town efforts to impose reasonable restrictions on the airport. Fred Overton, who will be the lone Republican on the new board, supports seeking federal funding. Incoming Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who like her fellow Democrats, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, has expressed concerns about the airport, said she would favor holding off on seeking additional F.A.A. funding until the town is assured it will be allowed to clamp down on noisy helicopters and other annoyances. That could result in a majority that could block efforts to obtain federal grants.
Airport opponents have expressed fear that if the town moves to accept additional grants from the F.A.A., efforts to impose a curfew and limits on the type of aircraft that can use the airport will be in vain.
Mr. Boleis disputed that notion, saying that the shutdown of the federal government was still having ripple effects. “Even if the town asked the F.A.A. for money, the government is not going to be writing a check between now and the end of the year,” he said.
A unanimous town board in 2012 adopted an airport master plan and requested F.A.A. funding for the construction of a deer fence around the airport, he recalled.
“It’s been two years and nothing has been done. It is disappointing, but we think nothing will happen [next Thursday] either.”