Letter to Editor, Southampton Press, July 25, 2010

The adverse effects of the East Hampton Airport on the eastern border of Southampton are increasing. A new plan for the airport will emerge shortly, in part addressing “noise abatement.” From what I have read, most of this effort is focused on the noise of helicopters. However, a larger issue is that all aircraft make noise. Some make more noise than others. All traffic to and from the airport disturbs the peace and quiet of residents of East Hampton, Southampton and other townships in the paths of these aircraft. An additional important consequence of the plan will be increased potential capacity of the airport. Any positive noise abatement (if any) resulting from the plan will be overwhelmed by increased traffic, an unintended outcome.

 The Town of Southampton must start exerting political and legal influence on this issue affecting its residents. The airport is on the western edge of East Hampton. Winged aircraft take off into the prevailing winds that come from the west. Taking off requires maximum power. Maximum power equals most noise. Consequently, Southampton suffers the most negative noise impact. Most discussion of the airport and the problems associated with it are put in present tense -never addressing future consequences of growth. Any future plans should include maximum ultimate size, maximum allowable noise. And the discussion should be specific with measurable criteria and means of holding people and government accountable. Control has to be returned to the citizens affected. And those citizens include those of Southampton.

 The plan will surely require an expenditure of more funds. With the precarious financial condition of the Town of East Hampton, there is a distinct danger that funding will come from the FAA. Accepting money from the FAA requires complying with FAA regulations that essentially strip local control over the operation of the airport, such as landing fees, hours of operation, types of aircraft and more, that would enable the citizens who suffer the negative impact of the airport to have, at least, some minimum say in limiting the intrusive noise on their lives. It is unconscionable that a few economic entities (some of which are not locally owned) and a few privileged pilots can avail themselves of the authority of a federal agency and have unilateral control over activities that destroy peace and tranquility in our neighborhoods.

 Surely, if the Town can be partners with East Hampton with respect to the Poxabogue Golf Course, the Town can insist on significant input on the airport.

 Stephen Levine, Sagaponack, NY

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