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The Fight Over East Hampton Airport Rages On

East Hamptonites are at odds with each other over the fate of the town’s eponymous airport.

The town for the first time has the power to affect operations at East Hampton Airport and it seems everyone has a different idea of what to do with it, according to Vanity Fair.

Part of the reason why there is so much debate is because of how much busier the airport has become over the past decade. Few things depress property values and quality of life like constant airplane noise.
The owner of one home in the airport’s flight path likened it to “living near JFK.”

Some want to leave the airport as it is, arguing it’s a vital part of the town’s economy and keeps its wealthiest residents coming year in and year out.

Others, particularly those in the airport’s flight path, want to see traffic reduced. Still others want the whole airport shut down and its 600 acres of land repurposed as a public park or other community use.
The airport generates millions of dollars a year in tax revenue for East Hampton. Consultants calculated that banning commercial flights alone — a proposal some have made — would reduce annual tax revenue by $3 million to $7 million.

But some see a commercial ban as a ploy by the super-rich to ban anyone who can’t afford their own jet and allow only people as rich as themselves through the airport.

One patron of popular helicopter and seaplane operator Blade told Vanity Fair it would be “fucking outrageous” if the town banned commercial flights only.

There are rich-people problems up and down highway 27,” the person said. “If Blade goes away, the traffic will be problem No. 1.”

One stakeholder described people who can’t afford their own jets, but can afford a nice house in the Hamptons, as “unmonied” and “disgruntled.”

Regardless, the level of traffic the airport sees today is causing problems for the local environment. Many environmentalists want traffic reduced or the airport shuttered.

Long Pond Greenbelt President Dai Dayton said that noise and jet fuel are a problem for natural areas. She said the coastal pond system is fragile, but “local government acts as though they don’t even know what it is.”

[Vanity Fair] — Dennis Lynch 

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