Faceless and Careless – Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, September 2, 2013

Dear David,

In an e-mail sent out by the East Hampton Business Alliance detailing a recent East Hampton Town Board meeting regarding town-owned property at the airport, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley is reported to have stated that rent at East Hampton Studios was raised from $2,000 to $50,000 because of Federal Aviation Administration rulings that require airport land to be rented at fair market value. Needless to say, that kind of increase will put the tenant out of business. It was also mentioned that as other leases come due all airport land tenants will be charged market-value rents.

Would that include ARF? Would that include successful, locally owned and run businesses like a day care facility and a garden business? Would the F.A.A. care? Do our local leaders?

Who might be able to afford such steep rents? Certainly not a local home service business with two or three trucks and a dozen local employees. More likely it would be a helicopter or seaplane commuter outfit from elsewhere looking to set up shop here. After all, it is the F.A.A.’s job to promote air traffic, not local business.

What we have developing here is a repeat of what’s happened on Main Street! Astronomical rents price out the little local folk and we end up with tenants, shops, and businesses with little if any value to the local community.

The alternative is far more beneficial to all the people of East Hampton.

Consider the former Shaw Aero property, which has been replaced by a viable and vibrant service commercial business center. A public-private venture, it houses dozens of small local concerns. With proper political will this model could be repeated 10 times over until every service truck in Springs has a proper and affordable home.

The F.A.A. is no friend of local small business. In fact, unless our local government representatives take strong and reasoned action regarding nonrenewal of all F.A.A. grant assurances, from today through 2021, many local businesses will be denied an opportunity to flourish in coming years. They will have been sold out by our own elected officials.

Let’s review: We have unbearable noise, pollution, a decline in property values, skies out of control, and the lack and loss of affordable workspace, which will result in even more service vehicles parked on our residential streets in years to come. The reason: We remain beholden to the F.A.A.

It makes no sense that a faceless and careless federal bureaucracy should dictate the future of the Town of East Hampton. Ask the local candidates now: Are you going to do right by East Hampton going forward or are you just going to roll over and play dead because it’s easier?