Letter: Helicopters should be split 50/50 between forks


I read with great interest the Town Hall Notes article regarding helicopter noise. It’s a key quality-of-life issue affecting North Fork residents and it’s so far eluded a solution.

I agree with Supervisor Russell that East Hampton “holds the keys to the kingdom” and that the only permanent solution is for East Hampton to adopt a comprehensive noise limitation policy. But as Mr. Russell acknowledges, this is not going to happen anytime soon, if at all. We do not seem to have a clear way forward to influence East Hampton to cooperate.

In the meantime, the helicopter noise has disproportionately affected residents in the Mattituck Inlet area. Mr. Russell should focus on arriving at an interim solution. First, work to redirect a portion of the flights over the Atlantic Ocean southern route. I may not have all the facts, but it seems that the current 65/35 route split (65 percent North Fork and 35 percent South Fork) is arbitrary. Who could argue against 50/50? It certainly seems a more equitable distribution of the flight routes.

Second, the North Fork route traffic should be equally divided between Mattituck Inlet and Orient, or perhaps identify a third flight route. Frankly, I’m disappointed Mr. Russell recently voted against a voluntary measure offered by the Eastern Region Helicopter Council to evenly divide the number of flights between the two routes. Why should the Mattituck Inlet residents be singled out to bear the brunt of the noise? What do we need to do to arrive at a more equitable solution? Are we not sufficiently vocal about it?

Mr. Russell correctly pointed out that “splitting the problem in half” does nothing to fix the helicopter noise and I applaud him for trying to work out a comprehensive solution. But splitting it in half does offer at least some limited measure of relief to those of us who are disproportionately affected.

Short of a comprehensive noise reduction policy, which seems to be out of reach, Mr. Russell “holds the keys to the kingdom” to arrive at a fair and equitable temporary solution.

Margo Lowry, Orient

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