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East Hampton Town Councilman Stanzione’s Response

July 19, 2011

Frank

Thanks for the note and the link.
The concerns you highlight are important and received attention.

Moreover, let me address the broader contentions in your note.

You surely know there’s been significant reduction in the number of helecopter operations using northern routes over the past 18 months. The number of flights using routes over the north have been reduced because use of southern routes have increased – voluntarily. Nearly everyone concerned with the noise issue recognizes this important fact. In addition, compliance with voluntary limits on altitude have also improved.

Unfortunately,exceptions to voluntary compliance initiatives do occur. That’s clear and important and we continue to press for even better performance regarding compliance. The general improvements are the result of voluntary agreements forged among operators, airport management and the administration. And while I know you appreciate these efforts, I also know you are not satified with the progress we have made. We also recognize more needs to be done.

The multi-town helecopter noise advisory committee has worked to attain even greater noise reductions from helecopter operations. The committee, which represents both the south and north fork region, has strong voices for reducing helecopter noise. It has met with FAA officials and helecopter industry represetatives – we actually had them in the same room at the same time – we have interacted on specific FAA administative plans for helecopter routing reform – and have worked hard to reduce the incidents of non-compliance and the annoyance they create!
As you point out, the issues surrounding helecopter noise and operations are national in scope and have specific impacts on communities and residents across Long Island. Legislation introduced by Congressman Bishop to have helecopter operations fall directly under FAA regulatory control has faltered. As you know, the Wilkinson adminstration vigorously supported the Bishop amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill. You also know, we have championed the creation of a southern route…if not by congressional action, then by FAA administrative fiat!
Because congressional action was clearly uncertain, the so-called FAA “administrative” strategy has been the focus of the our efforts, both as a town and as part of the multi-town committee. I believe this “administrative” option provides the best real opprtunity to actually reduce helecopter activity and annoyances over the northern routes in the shortest time. This might be accomplished by FAA “administratively” reducing NYC originations currently using northern routes and by directing helecopter fights to then use a newly created southern route. New stricter altitude restrictions, subject only to safety considerations, will also be sought under possible “administrative” action by the FAA.

Do I understand you as opposing an absolute reduction in northern route helecopter activity through working with the FAA? Tell me it ain’t so!

We continue to support congressional action
that clearly places helecopters under the direct control of the FAA. I believe you also agree with this administration on that point.

I appreciate your earnest consternation over the helecopter noise issue. I also know you understand how hard this adminstration has been working with the FAA to achieve an administrative solution — in the absence of congressional action! I also believe that few have done more for you and your concerns than this adminstration in many years. We are actively engaged in this issue at ever level of government.

I met directly with you last year and outlined these specific strategies and efforts. You may disagree with the strategy, but surely you appreciate the real effort being expended within the complexities of admistrative regulation and federal legislation. The effort requires diligence, expertise and patience. I understand you may remain dissatified, but be assured our work continues – to achieve a real reduction in helecopter noise over the northern routes in the most expedious time-frame possible.

While i cannot speak for other members of the board, I agree with those who describe East Hampton Airport as a jewel among many in our town and do not in any way support closing it. If that is the measure of my effectiveness, we must part ways. We can meet on the field of battle. I have been and will remain committed to the airport and improving its operations—both winged and helecopter — to maximize usefulness and minimize interference. It is an active airport and has been one for almost half a century. It provides our community with important benefits – public safety and economic to name two.
The management and staff of the airport have worked diligently to be a better neighbor and we will continue working for good relations with earnest
and sincerity.

If I can be of further assistance, please call. Your call is always welcome.

Dom

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