You can make an extended list of what’s to love about Shelter Island as a place to live and visit.
Living in what sounds like a war zone doesn’t make the cut.
But that’s the reality here for many residents tortured by the noise of helicopters flying people between New York City and the Hamptons during the summer months. The well-heeled are enjoying their lives — and the beauty, peace and quiet of the Island we all value is being wrecked.
It is blatant abuse and completely unacceptable.
Yet our federally elected leaders — Congressman Tim Bishop and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — seem powerless to stop the helicopters, despite ongoing efforts in D.C. that have generated an annual barrage of press releases touting regulations and maps and flight paths that, in the end, have provided zero relief for many beleaguered Island residents.
In fact, the new regulations have made matters worse here.
Consider that, despite requiring helicopters to remain over Long Island Sound as they make their way east from the city, pilots are allowed to deviate from those requirements when “transitioning” to or from a destination or point of landing. What that does is funnel all the helicopter traffic — which once fanned out across Long Island — directly across the North Fork and Shelter Island as the helicopters make their way to East Hampton and, less often, Gabreski airports.
Yet to hear our representatives speak, they’ve counted the new regulations as a victory.
Helicopter traffic to East Hampton Airport has increased 40 percent from last year, according to reports.
None of those flights are going around Orient Point on their way to the South Fork, an obvious solution for Shelter Island.
It’s also clear that even if what’s being called the “all-water route” were to go into effect, helicopters would still need to fly over neighborhoods in East Hampton to reach their destination. The airport is owned and operated by the Town of East Hampton, which draws revenues from its use. Shelter Island residents see no benefits. So it’s on the East Hampton Town Board to weigh the tax benefits and interests of their own residents, those affected by the noise versus the convenience and comfort of their wealthy neighbors. We must be left out of that fight — even though we can put pressure on East Hampton to act — but we need more effective leadership at the federal level.
Credit Mr. Bishop for showing up in Bridgehampton last week to hear the voices of the people.
But paging Senators Schumer and Gillibrand: Can you hear us over all this aircraft racket?