Town board to hear from consultants to decide fate of East Hampton Airport following noise complaints
The East Hampton Town Board is looking into what to do next after receiving complaints from residents that noise from the local airport is too much of a disturbance.
Barry Raebeck says planes and helicopters fly right over his Wainscott home almost every day at any given time. He says the noise sometimes wakes him in the middle of the night.
Raebeck says the noise has been getting worse for the past 20 years, along with the pollution. He says the East Hampton Airport is to blame.
“This airport is a disaster. It’s getting worse and worse and as long as it’s there, it’s going to continue to get worse,” Wainscott says. “So, we’re expecting the town to close the airport and to use 600 acres of public land for public good.”’
On Tuesday, the East Hampton Town Board heard from multiple consultants who are planning workshops throughout the month of September to communicate with concerned community members.
The board will be sharing facts about the airport with residents and taking people’s questions into consideration to do further research about the airport.
"It's either we close the airport or we modify the airport," says East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc says, “Looking at what the implications and the process for achieving that ultimate goal is going to take a little bit of time."
Residents like Raebeck say they want the airport shut down, but there are others who argue that the airport is actually good for the area and helps boost the economy.
Melissa Tomkiel, president of Blade Urban Air Mobility, says technology for silent flights and emission-free aircraft is just around the corner with electric seaplanes hitting the market as soon as 2023.
"We believe that if the airport were to close now, it would just be incredibly shortsighted," she says. “The problems that are being complained about are going to be solved by technology relatively quickly."
During the meeting, board members say they hope the workshops and studies done by the consultants will help them reach a decision about the airport. They hope to have something decided by the end of the year.
In September, ownership of the East Hampton Airport passes from the Federal Aviation Administration to the town.
Van Scoyoc says, "East Hampton looks forward to regaining local control of our airport to best reflect the needs of our community."