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Apr 28, 2015 2:12 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Pilot Pens Petition For Safety At East Hampton Airport

Apr 28, 2015 3:03 PM

In just a week, pilot Jonathan Sabin has collected hundreds of signatures on a petition he is circulating, urging East Hampton Town to do much-needed maintenance at East Hampton Airport.

He said by responding to the aviation community’s plea, town officials could prove they aren’t trying to close the airport—an assertion many are making in light of what they see as neglect of the facility in addition to the Town Board’s recent adoption of regulations aimed at limiting operations there to curb noise complaints.

“The Town Board needs to do something significant to show they’re serious about keeping the airport open,” Mr. Sabin said this week. “I’m very surprised by how many people have stood up and who are willing to discuss the issue.”

As of Tuesday morning, the petition on moveon.org had more than 600 signatures, compared to 722 gathered over four months on another moveon.org petition by resident Barry Holden in support of quieting the airport, which was put online on December 27, 2014.

Mr. Sabin’s petition titled “Keep the East Hampton Airport Open” notes the neglect pilots have seen over the years and requests that the town make a number of updates to make the airport safer, from trimming trees that are making landing more difficult to repaving a runway and installing a new weather system.

Petitioners from across the nation have signed their names and a few have stated their case, like Michael Leeds from East Hampton.

“[The airport] is part of our vital transportation network. It has been in operation for decades. People that bought property near it knew that there would be aircraft noise. Some pilots can be better users just like some neighbors can be better neighbors. However, we should have the airport in good shape for safe operation. It’s a convenience just like a three or four lane road. And, the airport adds jobs and property value to our town.”

James Kelly from Huntington Station also voiced his support to keep the airport up-to-date: “East Hampton Airport is an incredibly important asset to the aviation community, Long Island, Suffolk County, and its residents,” he said. “This airport should not be neglected and should be given the care and attention required to allow its continued use as an effective transport hub.”

Mr. Sabin said the town’s airport master plan addresses several safety issues, such as landing with a crosswind, which can make things a bit more difficult.

“We have fewer options for landing in the wind,” Mr. Sabin said about having only two active runways. “If you have three runways, you’re likely to land directly into the wind.”

Mr. Sabin and other pilots have mentioned their frustration with seeing deer, turkeys and foxes on the runways because there is no deer fence around the property.

“It’s inexplicable after so many years of neglect and so many years of effort to obtain a new airport master plan, specifically calling for certain repairs and maintenance and conformity at the airport,” said Elliott Meisel, a pilot and member of the East Hampton Aviation Association. “We have always worked with the town to coax and cajole them into proper treatment of the facility, but those actions and efforts seem to have failed.”

Mr. Meisel has signed the petition and plans on filing an amicus brief—a statement filed by someone not associated with the litigation, but who wants the opportunity to weigh in on it—with the judge overseeing a complaint that the Friends of the East Hampton Airport filed in January, asking the FAA to direct the town to resolve “critical safety and security gaps” at the airport. This complaint was filed in conjunction with a lawsuit filed against the FAA challenging its ability to waive grant assurances that had been blocking the East Hampton Town Board from restricting access at the airport by certain aircraft.

And while the Town Board is currently working with its consulting engineer, the pilots say they’ve waited long enough and any extra studies are a waste of time and money.

According to town officials, Michael Baker International is finalizing a report on how to deal with the trees and other safety issues at the airport. Town officials say the engineer’s report also is expected to cover the design and cost of installing deer fencing around the entire property, the installation of a weather station, the creation of dedicated approach and departure procedures for helicopters, and the development of a comprehensive and prioritized five-year airport capital improvement program. The town passed a resolution in November to hire Mr. Baker for $26,000 to study and create a plan to remove obstructions at the airport. The company will be compensated for the design work for each project the town moves forward with.

“The Town Board is too focused on spending money on various studies,” Mr. Sabin said. “This is something that has been going on for years and it’s come to a head at this point because of the amount of money they’re going to spend and how they’re going to use airport funds to defend these restrictions.”

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Where are they going to get the money if they have to pay lawyers to fight lawsuits?
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Apr 30, 15 9:26 AM
Once again, the pilot says people knew when they bought near the airport...that is NOT the situation and he knows it if he is sincere. People on the North Fork and Shelter Island and Southampton Township are being deluged with helicopter noise pollution as well as jets, seaplanes, turbo piston aircraft.
The airport has been in EH for years, that is true. However, what the pilot doesn't say is that it has been an airport for private pilots and aviator enthusiasts. It has NOT been for commercial ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 1:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
How DARE you challenge our desire to have a safe airport! You and your Quiet Skies group have hit a new and pathetic low with that insult. We have been desperately fighting for years to have the most basic repairs and maintenance done to keep someone from being killed. Those of us fighting to keep our airport are LOCALS. We are not nameless lobbyists from out of state - we live next door to you and shop at Waldbaums just like you (oh wait, that's too low brow for you). Come spend any nice weekend ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 3:24 PM
HOW DARE YOU spew this misinformation
YOU know very well what EHAA, Wilkinson and Stanzione tried to do---use surplus funds for lawyers (and boy did they ever just look how much Kirsch made under Wilkie.....) so that thee would be no surplus funds for maintenance and then could justify asking for FAA funds. Other than buiding a tower, they did no maintenance. NONE. SO GET YOUR FACTS TOGETHER.....
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on May 1, 15 12:48 PM
Trish you are not making sense again. You concede that no maintenance has been done but explode with indignation accuse me of spewing misinformation when I say that no maintenance has been done. Us local pilots have no control over the town board (any year's version) or how they spend money. We are just once again begging for the board to perform much needed maintenance before someone is hurt. Why are you so against this? Why does the death of a pilot or passengers make you so happy? Do you hate ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on May 1, 15 6:11 PM
I just saw an add for Gotham helicopters with their new service to East Hampton beginning Memorial Day weekend. They have quiet helicopters. HAHAHAHAHA
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Apr 30, 15 1:40 PM
We have seen same ad. It's a joke. Not only do they intend to taxi passengers to KHTO/EH Airport, but also to Montauk and Southampton. So all Anna Thorn-Holst accomplished when she backed away from supporting EH Town's 4 proposals was for naught. Her constituents will now suffer from additional helicopters. She said there may be "unintended consequences" and she was right...for her town. Personally, she made a huge mistake as well. She strongly urged the town of EH to implement the proposals ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 1:46 PM
P.S. Mr. Sabin the town is "too busy spending money on various studies"? If I recall correctly, it was the aviation groups who opposed the three rulings because they publicly stated that after a year and more of studies conducted, the town was being too hasty in making the decision to implement a curfew, aircraft restrictions deemed noisiest (helicopters). So which is it? Not enough study? Or too much?

It is quite transparent that the aviation groups want nothing to change. They ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 1:42 PM
Pls excuse typo- I meant "ad" not "add". I was distracted by the absurdity of it all. These new regs will make NO difference.
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Apr 30, 15 1:43 PM
A curfew is essential. No airport is open 24/7 365 days a year. Restrictions on helicopters is a good thing for all of us. We can't have the destruction of what makes the east end valuable to so many for its beauty. The whole issue is about those who want to make profit over those who want to enjoy their homes and way of life. A quieter life. That's why real estate is so expensive here. It's a haven that once gone, can not be replaced. Check out Barnstable/Hyannis Airport. That too was ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 1:49 PM
" No airport is open 24/7 365 days a year"..???? really..? did you just state this?. most airports are opened 24/7 365...
there are very few airports that have curfews,.. yes some do.. but I'm willing to bet that most don't.... Please post accurate material. HTO has had commercial service for decades. My guess is way before you purchased a house here.
By hto (12), sag harbor on May 1, 15 12:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is incredibly rare for any airport to have a formal curfew. Most are open 24/7/365.
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on May 1, 15 4:17 PM
Wait, what? For every airport in the US you name that has a curfew I will name 100 that do not..... bet I win
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on May 5, 15 10:15 PM
mcgrawkeber - I see your letters to EH Star and other places. So you are obviously quite knowledgeable on this issue. Can you please explain what happened to the weekend ban? Why specifically do you think that Thorn-Holst blinked "at the 11th hour?" Just curious...
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Apr 30, 15 3:23 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Apr 30, 15 3:28 PM
Momma always said empty barrels make the most noise. After the airport that is.
By we could run this town! (129), the oceanfront trailer park on Apr 30, 15 11:17 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on May 1, 15 12:50 PM
This past winter , the roads took a beating . Potholes were everywhere. We all got mildly up set when the town didn't fix these. Same thing with this airport. For years the airport has had minor up keep. Repaving one of the smallest runways to accommodate the smallest of aircraft that needs it during southwest winds is just one of the many items that should be done. Installing deer fencing along the perimeter is not only smart but safe. Installing an AWOS 3 would be beneficial to all not only to ...more
By hto (12), sag harbor on May 1, 15 12:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Imagine the town hiring a consultant to study whatever road maintenance might cost every time repairs are necessary. The town has operated the airport since it was built (as a WPA project back in the 1930's). And it still doesn't know what a deer fence will cost? Or how to trim trees? Seriously?
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on May 1, 15 4:20 PM
2 members liked this comment
proud of you for voicing your opinions.......

By CKonner (1), Water Mill on May 1, 15 7:38 PM