Dan’s Papers Unselfishly Opposes Helicopters in Springs

Helicopter Cartoon By Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon By Mickey Paraskevas

East Hampton Town is up to HERE with noisy helicopters landing at East Hampton Airport, and now the town has a proposal on the table to limit them. Beginning in May, if the Town Board passes this, no helicopters will be permitted to land at the airport from noon Thursday to noon Monday during the summer season. The rest of the time they will only be allowed to land at the airport between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Further, if they are found to be especially NOISY (to be defined), they will only be allowed one departure and one landing a week and only between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The town is moving right along toward making this a law. There will be a public hearing on March 5 at East Hampton Town Hall, and by Memorial Day the Town Board will hold a final vote.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell told me that this bundle of new ordinances has become necessary because voluntary attempts to reduce noise from helicopters have not worked. Last summer an average of 150 takeoffs and landings took place every day. There were days, on weekends, when 300 came and went. It is intolerable to ask the people living in homes near the airport to put up with what amounts to—if you do the math—about one takeoff and landing every five minutes from dawn to dusk on regular days and one every two and a half minutes on weekends. It’s impossible.

I will also say that Supervisor Cantwell is the perfect person to lead the charge against this wall of noise every day. There will be lawsuits. The people with the choppers are sure to not be still. But Supervisor Cantwell was, for nearly a quarter-century, the Village Administrator for East Hampton Village. He knows about lawsuits from fancy lawyers. And he knows the score.

But the other day, Mr. Cantwell told me something that really shocked me. The new regulations will only apply to the East Hampton Airport, which is owned by the town. They will not apply to the Montauk Airport, which is fine with me. But then there is another place where helicopters can land in East Hampton—up in Springs, near the old dump, which is now called the East Hampton Waste Recycling Center. This heliport is designated on FAA maps as 4NY5. At the present time, it is for private use only and we locals have never seen helicopters coming or going. Yet.

But who knows? It is just 1.2 miles from my house to that heliport as the crow flies. And that is what shocked me. Not for me, I’m just one fellow who is editor-in-chief of this newspaper. But I care a lot about everybody in this community and I think there are a whole lot of reasons, none that has anything to do with me, that make this unsuitable for the thundering herd of choppers that might be coming this way. So I am not just speaking for myself. It is just a very bad idea, landing helicopters in Springs.

For one thing, there is the route that the helicopters will have to follow to land here. The FAA designates these routes, trying to keep the helicopters as much as possible away from populated areas by having them fly over woods and water. Considering this, there are only two routes that make sense. One, coming north from the ocean, would take the helicopter over Jerry Seinfeld’s house and the baseball diamond he has built on his lawn, and we can’t have that. The other, coming south from Gardiner’s Bay, would have the choppers thunder straight down Three Mile Harbor—I live right on the south shore—right over my house to be sure, but more important, right over the peaceful tranquility of the harbor itself, with all its ducks and geese and swans and eels that, without the slightest doubt, would be scared silly from all that noise. This is very ecologically unsound, and many studies show that to be the case.

Then there are the rules for the harbor itself. In the harbor, boats must not exceed five miles an hour, and so this means that if a chopper got in trouble heading down the harbor and had to set down in the water, it would take a very long time for help to arrive. Personally I would find it very upsetting to have to watch a stricken helicopter slowly sinking into the harbor with all those brave and well-to-do folks on board crying help, help, help and nobody helping them.

Then there is the dump. The dump is right across the street from this private helicopter pad and is a town treasure with many important artifacts buried underground taken from the homes of such folks as Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart and a host of other rich and famous folks whose possessions could go for a pretty penny if dug up, you may be sure. And my stuff is dumped in there too.

Another reason not to have the helicopters come right over my…er…the community of Springs…is that it would disturb those playing golf at the East Hampton Golf Club. There they would be, lining up a putt or hitting out of a sand trap and suddenly, just-like-that, bracka, bracka, bracka etc., etc., etc. This is a private course where strict golf etiquette is observed, such as standing still and not speaking when others hit, and I can tell you that if any helicopter routes permitted a chopper to come in over my…over that golf course, it would destroy any hope that these club members might have of ever hosting the U.S. Open there.

Other important landmarks here in Springs, other than my…include the former home of the famous painter Jackson Pollock, who made his great and famous drip paintings right out on the back lawn of his home and who, if he were alive today, would be horrified to find out that nobody could paint outdoors and make great work such as that there anymore.

Also, 2 miles away from the dump—my house is 1.2 miles away, as I said—is Ashawagh Hall, the historic former-but-very-charming Springs Schoolhouse at which today there are often art-show openings or concerts or parties, all of which would be disturbed if a chopper came chattering over my house.

And then, across the street is Pussy’s Pond, and I don’t have to tell you how important that is.

In sum, I think that it is my duty as editor-in-chief, after engaging in considerable thought and weighing on the one hand this and the other hand that, to take a stand on this topic.

Dan’s Papers, speaking for the citizenry, is fully opposed to helicopters coming in and landing anywhere near, uh, the community of Springs. Maybe offshore out in the ocean we could set up a platform like an oil-drilling platform that has a wooden walkway to take the people with the helicopters across the surf and to the waiting taxicabs and other employees who might take them to where they have to go.

We’d be in favor of that.

Or maybe down along Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett, where the owners of The East Hampton Star live. That would be okay.

But not here.

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