Disturbing but not surprising news came out of an East Hampton Town Board meeting last week.
It was learned that a program that would have pilots fly routes into and out of East Hampton’s airport that severely limits airtime over residential communities was a spectacular failure. But it wasn’t due to bureaucratic foul ups or incompetence. The program was doomed to failure before the first take off.
Here’s where the unsurprising part comes in. The program failed because it was voluntary.
Pilots followed the guidelines only about 15 percent of the time.
Other data was equally disturbing and equally unsurprising, such as data that it was incredibly noisy last summer and the real window-shaking racket happened on the weekends. Anyone who lives here could have told you that.
But it’s important that anecdotal evidence is now backed by scientific tests, and that East Hampton town officials now have the numbers. This is ammunition for board members who will have to make a decision on the issue of noise at the end of this year.
On December 31, if East Hampton refuses to take Federal Aviation Administration money, the Town Board can begin to regulate the airport. This means time restrictions can be imposed on take offs and landings, and even the type of aircraft coming in or going out can be regulated.
For Shelter Islanders fed up with summer’s peace and quiet destroyed by the constant din of low-flying aircraft, it can’t come a moment to soon.
Special thanks goes to Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who attended last week’s meeting on the South Fork and weighed in with ideas. Mr. Dougherty has been out in front on this issue from the beginning. He’s not only heard the helicopters, but more importantly he’s heard the voices of his community and remains steadfast in the search for a solution.
Ban the bags
The Shelter Island Town Board-appointed Green Options Advisory Committee has been polling local businesses, gathering opinions on the uses of plastic bags. Southampton Village banned single-use grocery-sized shopping bags in 2011 and was commended by the state Department of Conservation for “environmental excellence.” According to the DEC, the ordinance achieved a 98 percent compliance rate and eliminated about 110,000 plastic bags in a year.
Now Southampton Town is close to a ban and Southold Town seems to be agreeable to the idea as well.
But Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter has said, in so many words, bag the idea of a ban.
Supervisor Jim Dougherty, although waiting for information from the business community, has said that some sort of ban “would be a good step.”
Surrounded by water, we take pride in being watchful stewards of our great resources. Not only is the sight of plastic bags floating in the water or blown onto beaches and dunes a figurative poke in the eye, but the bags are dangerous to wildlife swimming and feeding in our bays and creeks.
We’re on board to ban the bags.