Decision Time, Knocking on the Doors of the Homeowners Around Georgica Pond

One of the biggest problems during the summertime for the folks who live out in the woods in Wainscott north of the highway is airport noise. It’s true they built homes there long after the airport was created during the 1930s. So in theory they bought land cheap and knew what they were getting into.

The fact is, however, that when most of the people bought those homes, there were far fewer aircraft coming into that airport. Furthermore, there were no helicopters. Today, helicopters are a preferred mode of travel for those who can pony up the $700 or so per seat. It saves these wealthy folks a whole two hours of valuable travel time coming out here. The rest of us, if we don’t live here, have to put up with maybe three hours of travel on a typical Friday night in the summertime to get from Manhattan to this place.

Of course it’s now November, and there’s not much in the way of helicopter noise or any other kind of Master of the Universe noise coming out of the East Hampton Airport. This is the time to think and plan. They did this last year at this time. Frankly, they came to some interesting conclusions about what to do about this, and they put them into effect, but they didn’t work out.

As a result, one month ago, 19 East End elected officials from the villages, towns, county and state appealed to the FAA, which orders the routes that helicopters should fly to get to East Hampton Airport to change things
yet again.

Before this past summer, helicopters and planes came in from New York in most any direction they wanted. There was a lot of noise. And it disrupted people’s lives near the airport. But the problem was pretty much everywhere surrounding the airport. This was, uh, democratic.

In June 2010, East End officials had
asked the FAA to provide two narrow
corridors for arriving helicopters—one over Long Island Sound that would be called
the “Northern Route” and one over the Atlantic Ocean which would swoop in over the enclave of mansions like those in Georgica Pond to the airport which would be called the “Southern Route.” The idea was that the two routes would dramatically reduce helicopter noise everywhere except on these two sparsely populated routes.

Surprisingly, this past summer, the FAA only approved the “Northern Route,” which flew  Sagaponack, North Sea and Noyack. So that is where ALL the helicopters had to go to approach the airport which resulted in just a horrendous noise for the relatively poorer folks who live, some of them, in former fishing shacks, along the northern route. The noise was utterly intolerable. So now all these public officials are demanding that the FAA show a little backbone toward where the rich live along the “Southern Route” and allow that second route to go into effect along with the first. It takes no longer flying the southern route than the northern route. It’s just that the choppers should fly over the homes of the rich in addition to the homes of the poor.

At the present time there is a committee being formed which has as its goal knocking on the front doors of all those mansions on Georgica Pond and the surrounding estate enclave to ask whoever answers
the door—the butler or maid or whatever—if the owners would be willing to share the load with those less fortunate people
financially from the north who had to put up with this horrendous concentration of rat-a-tat-tat noise from the helicopters last summer. Hopefully the wealthy will see the fairness
of this approach and agree that this should be the case.

On the other hand, there is a small faction in the group forming this committee that wants to go directly to the FAA without doing the door-to-door business. This group believes that’s what’s only fair is that the rich people chartering helicopters should have them go over the rich people’s homes in the south, and the poor people chartering helicopters have them go over the poor people’s homes in the north. At the present time, the discussions of this committee, which is meeting daily in the high school auditorium, are leaning toward trying the former plan first and if they get nowhere with that going directly to the FAA with the latter proposal.

There is also some discussion about whether it violates the rights of American citizens to ask them not only where they are going (to East Hampton Airport) but where their home address is in the Hamptons, either North of the Highway or South of the Highway. But that seems to be something that the local lawyers who have taken this on pro bono say can be worked out.

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