Annoying (8/30/12)


The airport noise debate is heating up again on the East End. That’s because, despite the installation of a control tower at the East Hampton Airport, which was supposed to alleviate the noise situation, for many, it has apparently only grown worse.

And the people of Noyac and Sag Harbor are bearing the brunt of the burden.

That’s because with the new control tower has come the elimination of one approach route to the airport from the north over East Hampton. That means a bulk of the air traffic is now using the other approved northern route into the airport, which is over Jessup’s Neck. So East Hampton Airport is, in fact, intentionally or not squarely placing the bulk of the noise over Southampton residents.

And within this northern approach to the airport, you can be assured that most of those burdened by the noise are the least likely residents to be in a position to afford Hamptons air travel — a convenient fact that seems to have served the powers that be in East Hampton well.

And here’s another one we just learned this week through Karl Grossman’s “Suffolk Closeup” column. Do you know that 537-LOUD number that residents (possibly yourself) have religiously called day and night in recent years to register noise complaints as window rattling helicopters have thundered overhead? Guess who monitors that line. It’s a company based, not in East Hampton, but in Port Jefferson which is headed by a man who also happens to be a special advisor to and leader of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. That’s a group which represents – surprise, surprise – helicopter pilots.

It seems to us a little like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse and it makes us wonder if all those calls to that hotline that we’ve made have, in fact, been for naught. We have to imagine that the East Hampton Town Board has not been ignorant of the fact of who’s been at the other end of the line and what their particular motives may be as they were the ones who hired this firm. That this is the agency the town has deemed appropriate to provide data that will eventually lead the board to determine whether or not restrictions should be placed on certain aircraft – like helicopters – is laughable.

Actually, it’s disheartening and more than a little outrageous. We have been told repeatedly to call this number to report noise from machines overhead and many have done so in good faith. We have been told the town is taking noise abatement seriously, but have yet to see a true action to show just that. And without full disclosure on how those calls are being processed, it’s hard to take this number seriously, and we feel it’s just another example of how we’ve all been sold a bill of goods on this issue.

This is obviously unacceptable, particularly as until recently the liaison to the airport for the East Hampton Town Board, Dominick Stanzione, has been largely dismissive of the group of residents from both towns who have been plagued by airport noise pollution.

We do appreciate that Councilwoman Theresa Quigley has become an active participant in this debate. We recognize the airport is a town asset and should be protected in some form, but we also believe it is time for our elected leaders in East Hampton to show more interest as a majority in a constructive conversation, rather than simply picking sides in what has become a divisive debate over the last decade.

Trust is fading. Anger is mounting.

But frequent flyers of 537-LOUD take heart. Congressman Tim Bishop recently created another way to lodge aircraft noise complaints — one we feel has to be more legitimate than the hotline. It’s So use it when you need to. And keep calling 537-LOUD as well. If only to annoy the hell out of someone.