East Hampton Airport’s seasonal air-traffic control tower reopened Saturday morning, after the town recently secured Federal Aviation Administration approval to operate it on a permanent basis each summer.
The tower started up this season at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, three days later than initially anticipated, because of technical and bureaucratic delays with an up-island traffic control center, according to Airport Manager Jim Brundige.
The delay, he explained in a phone interview this week, was imposed upon the Daniels Hole Road airport by the TRACON center in Garden City and involved the need to train the controllers, as well as some technical issues.
When it opened last year, the tower had only temporary approval—granted on the condition that the town prepare an environmental assessment for its permanent operation on a seasonal basis. That permit expired in October 2012.
This assessment, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, got its stamp of approval last month from the FAA, which concluded that the tower will not result in “significant environmental effects.”
The season is generally defined as May to September, and the tower is to be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
It is designed to improve safety in the skies surrounding the airport, which extends 4.8 nautical miles from the airport in all directions from the ground to 2,600 feet, according to Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, airport liaison. All aircraft in this space are required to contact the tower.
Nearly 20,000 flights come in and out of the airport between these months, Mr. Brundige said, adding that the volume of traffic requires more control and coordination than there was in the past. Prior to having the tower, “there were some situations that developed that could have been hazardous,” he said.
Mr. Stanzione praised airport management for getting the tower ready to open so soon following FAA approval, and Mr. Brundige stood by a statement released by Mr. Stanzione in which the airport manager called the opening of the tower the “most significant accomplishment” of his career at the airport.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Cunningham, chairwoman of the East Hampton Quiet Skies Coalition, said in a phone interview last week that her not-for-profit organization, which has been outspoken on the issue of airport noise, continues to hope the tower will come with a noise abatement program.
So far, she said, it has made no headway. “I don’t know why they treat this tiny fraction of the community that uses the airport with kid gloves,” she said.
Grant Money SoughtThe East Hampton Town Board, in a special meeting last week, moved ahead with preliminary applications for state grants to repair commercial docks at Lake Montauk and construct a new aquaculture facility to replace an aging one in Montauk.
The town-owned docks are on Star Island Road and West Lake Drive and, according to Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, the first phase of work would cost about $483,480 and second-phase work about $120,000.
The aquaculture facility grant, meanwhile, seeks to build a brand new facility consisting of a combined hatchery and nursery on town-owned property.
The town last Wednesday, June 26, also moved forward on a non-binding letter of intent seeking funding to acquire and install a generator at the Montauk Playhouse, which serves as the town’s emergency evacuation center and temporary shelter.