AOPA is calling on municipal officials of East Hampton, New York, to seek the services of an independent mediator to address a long-running debate over noise complaints and federal funding of the East Hampton Airport, which the town owns and operates.
Town officials of the eastern Long Island community have held public meetings on the concerns—an effort for which AOPA expressed appreciation in a Nov. 24 letter to Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.
"However, in all of these meetings there is significant bias by all sides in what the appropriate solution would look like," wrote Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy.
The mediator proposed by AOPA could call together "representatives from each of the interested parties to come to the table and attempt to find some middle ground," he wrote.
Critics of the airport, which is the base for approximately 100 general aviation aircraft, have called on town officials to decline further federal airport improvement funds based on the idea that as the associated grant assurances—typically of 20 years duration—expire, the local government’s ability to limit airport operations would increase.
Airport supporters recently responded with criticism of a consultant’s $60,000 noise study that they said relied on data analysis methods that obscured pilots’ efforts to comply with improved practices for noise abatement.
AOPA has long supported the efforts of airport advocates, including the East Hampton Aviation Association, to find solutions to concerns about the airport. AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins recently met with local members of the airport community, and he urges member who live on eastern Long Island or who use the East Hampton Airport to contact community leaders and elected officials to request support for the continued operation of the airport without unnecessary restrictions on general aviation operations.
With litigation filed in the past and threatened by some parties for the future—a protracted process that threatens to drain local resources—AOPA "hopes that you will give adequate consideration to the idea of mediation in this long-running dispute about the airport. We are prepared to assist the township if needed," Dunn wrote.