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Oct 31, 2017 2:48 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Airport Runway Debate Swirls Again

East Hampton Airport and Surrounding Area
Oct 31, 2017 3:16 PM

A long-simmering debate over a dormant runway at East Hampton Airport boiled over last week as residents of the Wainscott neighborhoods south of the airport blasted pilots who said the runway should be reopened.

Residents were alerted last week by an anonymous mailing warning that aircraft “spewing neurotoxins” from their engines could soon be flying over their homes if Runway 4-22 were to be reopened. They rushed to a presentation being made on Friday to East Hampton Town’s Airport Management Advisory Committee about the wind conditions at the airport and about which of the airport’s two secondary runways was more useful to pilots.

“That runway is the one that goes over a residential area, whereas 16-34 goes over a sand pit with no houses,” said Arthur French, one of the Wainscott homeowners who was at the meeting. “In the 10 years since that runway was closed, there has been no accidents and no fatalities. So what’s the urgent need?”

Mr. French said the response from pilots on the committee—that the southwest-to-northeast-facing 4-22 is more “convenient” for pilots in small planes—is not one that presents a particularly critical need for the runway to be in service.

Gene Oshrin, a pilot and member of the AMAC, said that if Runway 4-22 were to be reopened, it could only be used by small propeller planes, not jets, and would be most useful to pilots on landing, not takeoff, so would likely result in very few new flights exiting the airport over homes to the southwest.

“Historically, the main concern is landings: When the wind is brisk out of the southwest, it is a bit of a handful for light aircraft like we use,” Mr. Oshrin said. “Personally, I would take off on [the main runway], but on return I would choose 22 as an easier way to land.”

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the committee had asked for the wind report, which indicated that the use of 4-22 would provide the most comprehensive coverage of wind conditions at the airport, as it starts to consider needed improvements to the airport’s paved runways and taxiways. She said that whichever runway the town decides should be used will need extensive repaving, to the tune of $3 million or more.

The debate over Runway 4-22 has been a long one. The first airport master plan, adopted in 1989, declared that Runway 16-34, oriented just slightly askew of north-south, should be the designated secondary runway for small planes. But after a decade of analysis, the new master plan, adopted in 2010 by the Town Board, declared that 4-22 should be the designated secondary runway.

Before then, in an attempt to push the board into making improvements to the runway, an aviation group had mounted a very public campaign that labeled the runway as dangerous in the condition it was in. The move backfired when the board voted in 2006 to shut down the runway while it completed the master plan, in case its condition posed a liability issue for the town.

The runway has since served as a part of the taxiway for aircraft transiting from the main runway to the terminal.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said that while 16-34 is also deteriorating, it would likely not need repaving until 2022 at present use levels.

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Ever since the gps approach was changed to 10/28 by that former board member Stanzione he has ruined the quiet use and enjoyment of thousands of homes from North Sea, through Noyac, Through Sag Harbor, Through Sagaponack. Opening up 4/22 would be great then it would approach over the golf course with the least amount of houses. Make that the helicopter approach. In addition if the helos would slow down to 80 knots a fly higher you would barely hear them. But now they just come in like a bat out ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Oct 31, 17 4:00 PM