With 2014 solidly in the rear-view mirror, it’s time here to look forward to what’s in store for the East End in 2015.
Perhaps one of the largest regional issues sure to rear its head in 2015 is what East Hampton ultimately plans to do to curtail noisy helicopter traffic en route to its airport.
The town is now free to set restrictions on the type and frequency of traffic in and out of its airport, after its obligation to not restrict traffic as a result of having taken FAA grant money expired at the end of 2014.
East Hampton is in the midst of preparing a study of the best course of action to take, which could include limiting the number of helicopters during peak traffic times, setting a curfew on airport operations, or possibly banning helicoptes altogether. The town board is expected to discuss those findings Feb. 3.
Meanwhile, the Southold Town Helicopter Committee began circulating a MoveOn.org petition in December asking East Hampton Town to ban helicopters and instate curfews at the East Hampton Airport. That petition had 640 signatures as of Jan. 3.
Environmental issues had been at the forefront of East Hampton’s agendas in 2014, with the town pledging to produce all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
But much of East Hampton’s projected energy from renewables was predicated on the construction of the Deepwater ONE wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Montauk. Deepwater Wind, the company developing the project, didn’t receive a bid to sell that power into Long Island’s electric grid in December, a major setback.
Southampton adopted a sustainability plan in December of 2013, but the town has been relatively quiet on the environmental front since the passage of that controversial plan.
This year, Southampton Town agreed to work with Stony Brook Southampton scientists to study the areas of town where septic flow has the most impact on harmful algae blooms. The cool weather of 2014 meant fewer algae blooms in local waters than in recent years, but that could easily change in 2015 if we have a warmer year.
Southampton also joined with East Hampton in banning plastic retail shopping bags in December. Both towns are hoping to spur the rest of the East End to also adopt bag bans, but the idea has met with resistance from the Southold and Riverhead town boards. We’re expecting this issue to be taken up by environmental groups this year.