Stakeholders concerned with helicopter noise over Southampton Town — generated by flights to and from the East Hampton Airport — met Sept. 17 at Southampton Town Hall to discuss ways to offer relief to residents who want peace and quiet returned to their communities.
The problems arose July 14, when a new helicopter route was implemented that sends the aircraft over the base of Jessups Neck in Noyac.
Now, helicopter flights cross over Noyac, Sag Harbor and portions of Water Mill and Bridgehampton, Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said. “It created a substantial change in the quality of like for Southampton Town residents."
Residents, including long aggrieved East Hampton residents, have been protesting at the East Hampton Airport in recent weeks.
In addition to Scalera, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, state Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, members of the Quiet Skies Coalition in Wainscott, a representative for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and two representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration were in attendance.
But notably absent were members of the East Hampton Town Board, which controls the airport, and airport manager Jim Brundige.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he had a family obligation and gave notice that he would miss the meeting.
“I’m going to chock it up to confusion with dates as a result of the holiday," Scalera said, adding that she believes East Hampton Town officials are sincere about wanting to help mitigate noise.
The meeting came one week before Monday's Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Committee meeting at Brookhaven Town Hall, including the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, which is a trade association for helicopter owners and companies; East Hampton Town Board members and FAA technical advisers.
Scalera said that a number of methods should be used to mitigate noise and flights concentrated over one area; “I don’t think there is a silver bullet here.”
Primarily, Southampton Town is advocating for flight curfews and to reduce the total number of flights, she said. Secondarily, she said the town would like to see routes changed and dispersed.
“It’s just unacceptable, the way it's working right now,” she said.
Scalera said that though helicopter traffic is not regulated, the East Hampton Airport has accepted money from the FAA for safety funding, and strings are attached.
“Ultimately, the goal of this ongoing process is to reduce the overall burden of aircraft noise on all residents of the East End, and all options should be put on the table for evaluation,” Bishop is quoted as saying in a statement from Southampton Town Hall. “While the East Hampton Airport is under local control, I am committed to working with all stakeholders including the FAA to negotiate and implement a long-term solution to this serious quality of life issue.”