Letter to the Editor: Dougherty's plan for 'quiet skies'

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty speaking Sunday at the Ram’s Head Inn at the ‘State of the Town’ meeting sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island.

To the Editor:

The 2013 helicopter season is fast approaching.  Last year Shelter Island fared well regarding helicopter noise with the two routes to East Hampton Airport I helped negotiate — half the flights via a southern route over Georgica Pond and the balance via a northern route veering south east over Jessups Neck well to the west of Shelter Island.

A group of Hamptonites (some of whom like the convenience of helicopter commutes but don’t want the noise over their homes!) are attempting to persuade the pilots and East Hampton Airport (the decision makers in the end, but we all must voice our opinions to try to influence their decisions) to revive for one-third of this summer’s flights the discredited North West Creek route, which turns westerly through the “South Ferry channel” as they call it.  (I have been urging the pilots, should they insist on this route, to continue north, well east of Shelter Island, thereby avoiding disturbing Shorewood, Silver Beach and North Haven, and they are considering it, though complaining about the slight increase in flight time.)

Please contact our Assemblyman Fred Thiele (537-2583) and our Congressman Tim Bishop (259-8450) to protest the possible revival of this discredited North West Creek route (being referred to by its proponents as a “test” implying the discredited route has never been used before).  Recently, as the “beggar thy neighbor” motives became increasingly clear, the Quiet Skies Coalition, an impartial volunteer group working to minimize the adverse effects on the East End quality of life  of the increasing helicopter traffic, issued a statement withdrawing from these discussions, stating: “As a coalition representing all areas of the East End, I think it better for Quiet Skies Coalition to withdraw from these negotiations, as any result bringing more noise to one group at the expense of another is a liability for some portion of our membership.  This is a Hobson’s choice.”

Please ask our elected officials representing us to maintain the 2012 routes, sparing the town that enacted the law in 2007 banning helicopter landings and take offs —  thereby eliminating helicopter commuting for Shelter Islanders — from bearing the brunt of the noise and disturbance of weekend commuter flights by our well-heeled South Fork neighbors.

James D. Dougherty

Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island