Featured Letter: A political solution to helicopter noise

To the Editor:

Last week a letter signed by all chief elected officials of the five East End Towns and villages, save East Hampton, was sent to the FAA by Assemblyman Fred Thiele requesting that a southern helicopter route along the Atlantic Ocean be mandated for craft heading to East Hampton from the south.

This request is not new. The letter referenced a June 2010 document signed by four East End supervisors requesting this same route change among other essential access limitations for both East Hampton airport and Gabreski airport in Westhampton Beach.

This is an important first step and Assemblyman Thiele, Congressman Bishop and Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst are to be congratulated for leading the charge. However, while there may be some justification for sending helicopters over the Atlantic to approach East Hampton airport, simply spreading the noise around victimizes greater numbers of homeowners and wildlife, rather than addressing the source of the problem.

What is new is that elected officials from all levels of government united, in short order, to properly represent their various constituents suffering from unrelenting aircraft noise from East Hampton airport. Our airport and the aircraft traveling to and from it has become a serious regional quality-of-life problem for all East End residents.

Notably absent from this request was the signature of East Hampton Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who deferred, preferring the consent of the entire East Hampton Town Board before committing to such a request.

Councilman Dominick Stanzione, however, affixed his signature to this document, persevering in his solo decision-making approach to airport policy.

This same policy single-handedly created the Bastille Day bombardment of Noyac, North Sea, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island and North Fork communities from East Marion to Orient, when the councilman directed all helicopter traffic previously using the Northwest Creek route to come in and out over Jessups Neck.

Remarkably, it was this route change and the councilman’s independent action which galvanized elected officials all over the East End in efforts to provide relief from aircraft noise to their residents.

The noise problem at East Hampton airport is a political problem with a political solution.  Local elections are one year away. Voters are paying close attention to this issue.

Elected officials, take note.

Kathleen Cunningham

chairperson, Quiet Skies Coalition