By Peter Boody
Nineteen top elected officials from the East End — from village mayors and town supervisors to Congressman Tim Bishop — have asked the FAA to approve immediately a mandatory helicopter route between New York and the Hamptons to reduce the noise of helicopters overflying North and South Fork communities on their way to and from East Hampton Airport.
“We are united in our position that, despite significant efforts to mitigate helicopter noise,” they wrote Michael P. Huerta, acting administrator of the FAA, in a letter with a New York Legislature letterhead dated October 12, “helicopter noise on the East End remains a major, unresolved ‘quality of life’ issue for our region, which also adversely impacts a regional economy dependent on tourism and the second-home industry.
The letter was drafted by the staff of Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., according to Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who released a copy of the letter to the press.
They note that the FAA did establish a mandatory helicopter route a mile off the north shore of Long Island last summer but it reduced noise only in Nassau and western Suffolk. Helicopters headed to or from East Hampton still have to turn inland over the East End and fly over populated areas.
“The source of the overwhelming majority of helicopter noise complaints centers on north-south cross-island transits over residential communities,” the officials wrote. “Most notable are the transits from the North Shore Route to and from East Hampton Airport. No matter how the deck is re-shuffled with regard to these transit routes, there is no acceptable transit route solution to mitigate helicopter noise on the East End.”
The officials said there was no reason for the FAA to wait for a two-year test period for the North Fork route to completed.
A South Shore mandatory route was first requested by the four East End town supervisors in a letter to the FAA in June, 2010.
“It was a considerable effort and accomplishment to get all these signatories on this emphatic letter,” Supervisor Dougherty commented, “and all credit to Assemblyman Fred Thiele and his staff for effectively drafting and garnering” the support and signatures.
The signers, in order of their signatures, were: Congressman Tim Bishop, State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman Thiele, Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, County Legislator Ed Romaine, Shelter Island Supervisor Dougherty, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southampton Councilwoman Christine Scalera, North Haven Mayor Laura Nolan, East Hampton Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr., Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, Sagaponack Mayor Donald P. Louchheim, Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley and Greenport Mayor David Nyce.