Government Briefs: Airport Support, Montauk Lawsuit, Education Funding

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A busy weekend at East Hampton Airport. Photo by Michael Heller.

East Hampton Town Airport Petition Garners More Support

As expected, New York City has filed a legal brief in support of East Hampton Town’s petition to the United States Supreme Court that attempts to overturn a federal appeals court decision that restricts municipalities and other local airport owners from managing their airports themselves.

Additional support for East Hampton’s petition has been provided by the Committee to Stop Airport Expansion, a group of residents living near the East Hampton Airport; the International Municipal Lawyers Association, which represents more than 2,500 local government entities; and the Town of Southold.

The Committee to Stop Airport Expansion and the IMLA jointly said the appeals court misinterpreted the role of the Federal Aviation Administration under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) of 1990. The corporation counsel for the City of New York said the appeals court decision “is at odds with congressional intent, undermines the [ANCA’s] purpose and violates constitutional limits on federal-court jurisdiction.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a statement that “we are hopeful that the court will take notice that with the stroke of a pen, the appeals court decision federalized our airport and stripped us — and the tens of thousands of similarly situated airports, including those owned and operated by the City of New York — of the ability to exert local control. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will recognize this as an issue of national concern and grant review to the town’s petition.”

Montauk Homeowners’ Lawsuit Moves Forward

A 2011 lawsuit brought by beachfront homeowners in Montauk against East Hampton Town and the Army Corp of Engineers will proceed to trial, after a federal judge last week rejected the town’s arguments the suit should be dismissed.

The homeowners claim that town-owned jetties at the entrance to Lake Montauk have caused catastrophic erosion and damage to the public and private beaches, sand dunes and homes to the west, leaving them vulnerable to storms. They also claim the jetties have caused “the loss of invaluable public environmental and recreational amenities,” including the public waterfront all the way west to Culloden Point.

“This suit is based on thousands of documents that unequivocally demonstrate that the responsible government entities have been aware of this problem for many years and have acknowledged that the jetties are the cause of the problem, but have simply been unwilling to take action to fix the problem,” attorney Jonathan Sinnreich, who represents the homeowners, said in a statement.

Funding Higher Education Facilities & Programs

A New York State initiative to create new academic spaces and improve the infrastructure of its public colleges and universities has yielded $5 million in funding for Stony Brook Southampton and $2 million toward Suffolk Community College’s Eastern Campus Health and Sports Center.

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. this week announced these allocations as part of the newly-approved fiscal year 2018 state budget.

“Ensuring an accessible, affordable, quality college education has been a primary goal of mine for years,” Mr. LaValle, who chairs the State Senate’s Higher Education Committee, said in a statement. “Coupled with that is a priority to properly fund and maintain the infrastructure of the SUNY campuses.”

Additionally, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin announced a five-year, $60 million grant has been awarded to the Stony Brook University World Trade Center Wellness Program from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The money will go toward improving essential screening services and treatment for 9/11 first responders.

“This five-year federal grant will go a long way in ensuring our 9/11 first responders receive the essential care and services they need and rightly deserve,” Rep. Zeldin said in a statement. “We can never do enough to support these American heroes, who selflessly risked their lives at such an important time in our nation’s history. This grant is an essential way to remember and honor the brave sacrifices made in the aftermath of the attack on our nation.”

Demolition Weighed

The Southampton Town Landmarks and Historic Districts Board will hold a hearing on the application to demolish a Greek Revival farmhouse at 949 Ocean Road in Bridgehampton when it meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Southampton Town Hall.

The house was built in 1890 and sits on the east side of the road near its intersection with Mecox Road. In preparation for its demolition, a number of mature shade trees were cut down. The landmarks board has recognized the house and its detached garage/barn as an historic resource for the town.

The board meets in the second-floor town board conference room.

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