Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s office phone line is bombarded every Monday morning with calls from residents who’ve had enough of the non-stop weekend helicopter traffic en route to East Hampton Airport.
And now, he’s had enough, too.
Mr. Russell said at a work session Tuesday morning that his administration is planning to hold a public forum in late July with South Fork groups that have also had enough of helicopter noise, and to establish a “community-based action group” in Southold to bombard East Hampton with complaints about helicopter noise.
“It’s just getting out of hand and it’s gotten worse,” he said. “We need to start synthesizing all this anguish and this anger over this issue. I want the people of Southold to bombard these phone lines.”
“We have allies on the South Fork,” he said, adding that he recently met with civic associations from Sag Harbor and Noyac, who also face constant helicopter noise, who have calculated that 80 percent of helicopter flights to the East Hampton Airport are directed to travel over the North Fork.
The group also includes the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt and the Group for the East End.
“This is a consortium of organizations and they do know their stuff,” he said. “They’re organized. They have a structure…. These people are going to direct us to organize our effort in a more unified fashion.”
Mr. Russell said the forum will focus on “where the problem is, why the problem is what it is, and what we need to do about it.” He said he plans to have more information about the date and time of the forum very soon.
He added that the FAA’s mandated offshore North Shore route, established two years ago, didn’t help the North Fork at all, since helicopters using that route are allowed to cross land on their final approach to the airport, instead of flying around Orient Point as originally suggested.
“They’ve made the problem worse by the creation of the North Shore route,” he said. “East Hampton still has the keys to the kingdom. There are very few friends of Southold Town there.”
“People don’t know where to call,” he added, pointing out that a toll-free airport noise number, established by former North Fork State Assemblyman Marc Alessi several years ago, is no longer a valid number.
East Hampton Airport’s noise complaint hotline is 1.800.376.4817. Complaints can also be lodged via the town’s online form here.