New Helicopter Pad Solves East Hampton Airport Woes

Helicopters might soon save East Hampton Airport — by landing elsewhere!
Helicopters might soon save East Hampton Airport — by landing elsewhere!
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In a stunning development about noise at the East Hampton Airport, a wealthy homeowner in Wainscott will be solving the problem by building an oceanfront helicopter pad on his property that will be available for public use. He signed an agreement with the Town Council president yesterday morning. And he appeared at a press conference at the airport in the afternoon with Council President Arnie Needham to explain it all.

The man is Alexander DeKlerk, the sixth richest person in the world. His oceanfront estate here is very large. He owns 647 feet on the ocean, a 200-foot by 200-foot patch of land which now will become a helicopter pad for those arriving from New York City.

“It’s undeniable that the major problem with noise at the airport is the helicopters coming in and out,” he said. “And it is undeniable that practically all the passengers in these helicopters are wealthy. It’s time we took ownership of that fact. Instead of burdening the less fortunate who live by the airport, we must solve the problem ourselves.”

President Needham praised DeKlerk to the skies.

“Mr. DeKlerk contacted us out of the blue,” he said. “The council has been considering closing our airport for months. And I was planning to announce our decision next week. This would really have been a tough call.”

Needham went on to explain how this will work.

“All helicopters leaving New York for the Hamptons will fly over the ocean off Long Island the whole way. They will be 3,000 feet up and one mile off. Arriving off the Hamptons, they will make a 90-degree turn directly in front of the DeKlerk property and fly in and down to the chopper pad right on the dune at the back of the beach.”

The reporters had questions.

“How will passengers get to the public road?”

DeKlerk answered: “My property is 900 feet from ocean to road. People meeting passengers will use my driveway. Taxis use our service road.”

“Isn’t your property gated?”

“It is. The code to get in is 1234*. Or they can call us at the house and the staff will unlock the gate remotely.”

“Why are you doing this?” another reporter asked.

“I see a problem and I fix it. That’s how I made my money. I also believe in ‘love thy neighbor.’ Our neighbors here in the Hamptons are the local folks. They’ve been here since the 17th century.”

“What about your immediate neighbors?”

“I’ve spoken to them. They believe in love thy neighbor, too. All of them. There’s this unfortunate belief that we wealthy folk are all about greed. And we battle the locals. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s our mess. We’re cleaning it up.”

“Is there any quid pro quo here?”

Needham answered: “The Town offered to pay to have sand brought in to protect the property and his helicopter pad from erosion. DeKlerk refused it. Said when the dunes need new sand he will pay for it.”

“Is this legal?”

“It is illegal to land a helicopter in residentially zoned property. But late this morning, the council created an exception to this rule. It will be legal to land a helicopter on this 200-foot by 200-foot piece of Mr. DeKlerk’s property.”

“When will the helicopter pad be open for business?”

“We’re starting construction tomorrow. We expect it will be open for Christmas.”

A reporter asked if that meant Santa and his sleigh could be the first customers, and that got a laugh.

Another reporter asked how this would affect traffic at East Hampton Airport.

“Not having helicopters land there reduces the number of takeoffs and landings by half. The other half, all private or commercial planes, will continue as before. But their number will not be allowed to increase, and there will be curfews that begin at 10 p.m. and continue until 8 in the morning. There will also be decibel levels that cannot be exceeded. This is a win-win-win for everybody.”

“Was there any other proposal on the table for you to consider?”

“We had an offer from a group of helicopter business owners to give one free trip to a local for every trip taken by one of the wealthy people. I think they intended to double the prices for the wealthy. We talked about it, but it seemed demeaning and we thought some locals might be offended that they’d have to make a trip whether they liked it or not. So we turned it down.”

Another reporter addressed a question to DeKlerk.

“Will you plant hedgerows to create privacy between the helicopter pad and your family?”

“No. We like hustle and bustle. We have a floor-through apartment in the new 120-story tower at Park Avenue and 58th Street. But it’s on the second floor. Noise doesn’t bother us. But that, as I said, is not the main reason we are doing this.”

“And will this new helicopter pad have a name?”

Needham responded: “Mr. and Mrs. DeKlerk are naming it after their dog Artie. It’s Artie’s Chopper Pad.”

After the press conference, the reporters made a mad dash for the nearby payphones to file their stories.

Meanwhile, Dan’s Papers sent reporters around town to ask people what they thought.

In the estate section, there was a surprising amount of approval. One person said they all owed this solution to the locals. Another, George Huntingham of Sagaponack, said he’d planned to offer his property if Mr. DeKlerk had not.

Ben Harris, the owner of Hampton Tow Plane, which flies banners along the beach in the summer, said he’s okay with it. “If the choppers stay at 3,000 feet, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Strangely, the only objections to the plan came from environmentalists.

“The choppers are going to scare the fish,” said Bart Oleans, president of Save Our Planet. “And the seals, ospreys and eagles won’t know what to do. We will fight this tooth and nail. They rushed it through.”

A member of the Dark Skies organization wouldn’t comment one way or the other. “If they put an all-night curfew on it, it’s not in our ballpark anymore.”

Dan’s Papers commends Mr. DeKlerk for solving this problem. Our hat is off to him. And it also is off to the town for moving so quickly.

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