Airport Manager to Retire

Jim Brundige confirmed Tuesday that he had informed the town board early this month of his intent to retire just as he reaches the decade mark in his position as manager of the airport
Jim Brundige, left, who has been the East Hampton Airport manager for a decade, will retire this fall. Morgan McGivern

East Hampton Town’s airport manager, Jim Brundige, will step down from his post in the fall, after his replacement is hired and has some on-the-job time to work with his predecessor.

Mr. Brundige confirmed Tuesday that he had informed the town board early this month of his intent to retire just as he reaches the decade mark in his position as manager of the airport, which has been a perennial flashpoint in community discussions about aircraft noise as well as airport repairs and finances.

Just last night, the town board held a meeting to hear noise complaints from across the region, and a large crowd was expected, including residents of both the North and South Forks angry about noise and a contingent of airport supporters who fear a secret agenda of shutting the airport down.

Mr. Brundige said that his decision was a personal one. Before coming to work in East Hampton, he said, “I already had a long aviation career.” He retired at age 60 as an airline pilot, as was then required, before taking the job with the town.

He began his career as a pilot in the Air Force, flying fighter jets and air-sea rescue helicopters. He then flew jets for a major worldwide corporation before signing on with United Airlines, where he spent 20 years flying and in a management post in the airline’s chief pilot’s office at Kennedy Airport.

Not too much rest is on the horizon for Mr. Brundige upon his retirement from the town airport.

In addition to assisting his wife, Barbara Brundige, a broker with the Sag Harbor office of Douglas Elliman, with her business, he will work as an aviation consultant, he said, with a couple of firms — though not on any matters involving East Hampton.

“It’s been a long haul,” Mr. Brundige said Tuesday. “The town’s been very good to me. It’s been a very interesting, challenging job, but no job that’s worth anything wouldn’t be that way.”

Managing the East Hampton Airport in an often-charged atmosphere has been a “great learning experience,” the manager said, that will provide perspective in his future work as a consultant. Over his tenure, an airport master plan was updated, lawsuits ensued, and heated public and political debate continued over whether the town should continue to take federal airport grants, and how more local control could be gained over the airport traffic that creates problematic noise.

The town board is expected to announce its choice for the next airport manager soon, “perhaps by the next regular town board meeting,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in an email on Tuesday.

Mr. Brundige, he said, “is a gentleman who acted professionally representing the town in the face of tumultuous issues during a period of significant change at the airport.”