Before last week’s packed public aircraft noise meeting in Wainscott, a smaller group of public officials met with representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration in Riverhead.
As with previous encounters with the FAA, nothing much was accomplished, according to those who attended the meeting.
Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) hosted the gathering in response to complaints voiced at an earlier meeting in Bridgehampton that the FAA was sending what one official described as “second string” reps. Representatives of U.S. senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were also present.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter attended the meeting and noted that the discussion focused on the routes helicopter should take, with the FAA reps saying they were trying to encourage helicopters to fly “just east of the Mattituck Inlet, where it’s less populated.”
Mr. Bishop later disputed that statement in an interview, saying, “I’m surprised to hear Supervisor Walter say that because neither I nor anyone else from my staff heard that said.”
“I’ve gotten complaints, and they say that since the Southold meeting, more and more helicopters are flying over Jamesport now,” said Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy. “Something happened out there that they are pushing the helicopters over to Jamesport.”
“We want to continue the push east, and for them to go around Plum Island,” Mr. Walter said.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said he was also disappointed with the FAA meeting.
“One message came through loud and clear,” he said, “the Town of East Hampton will have absolutely no ability and no authority to work with the other towns and villages to address this problem if that town accepts any future FAA funds. Grants come with strings attached and when the strings are attached to an agency that is charged with the mission of promoting the aviation industry, quiet skies would not be in our future.”
No federal officials were present at that special East Hampton Town Board meeting.