Residents target airport tower

An undated handout photo of the new seasonal

An undated handout photo of the new seasonal control tower at East Hampton Airport. (Credit: Handout)

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Perhaps it was the frustration of decades of fighting noise from planes landing at East Hampton's tiny municipal airport.

The front row of East Hampton's town hall auditorium was filled Thursday night by angry protesters, demanding that a new seasonal control tower be named "Stanzione's Folly" because it will not help reduce noise, as they expected.

Councilman Dominick Stanzione was the key town board member who worked to get the roughly two-story tower approved. It will operate only during the busy summer months, when the airport gets most of its traffic.

Protester Kathy Cunningham said Friday that the noise -- which residents say worsens each year as more and bigger planes and helicopters use the airfield -- must be stopped.

Cunningham, who chaired the town's airport noise abatement committee for five years until it was disbanded in 2011, said she and the other protesters from the East Hampton Quiet Skies Coalition want the town to adopt a mandatory noise abatement plan with strict penalties for aircraft using the airport.

They dubbed the new control tower "Stanzione's Folly" -- the protest sign was colored in purple -- because they said it won't control noise, but will increase safety and efficient use of the airport.

When first proposed by the town last year, the control tower was seen as a way of giving the town some ability to require pilots to fly on routes and at altitudes that would lessen the noise of aircraft, but federal officials say its purpose is to increase aircraft safety.

The town board listened politely to the protests, but took no action.

Stanzione said that controlling noise was an important concern of the town, but the process is complex and will not happen overnight.

He said that getting the tower approved was just the first step in what will be a lengthy process that will ultimately increase safety and control noise, and that -- while the FAA considers safety to be the prime purpose of a control tower -- having the ability to regulate the altitude of aircraft within the controlled space would lead to less perceived noise on the ground.

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