A plane takes off from East Hampton Airport last week.

A plane takes off from East Hampton Airport last week. Credit: Bloomberg / Johnny Milano

East Hampton Town officials on Thursday announced they would be delaying and shortening the temporary closure of the town’s airport under an agreement reached with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, during a town board meeting Thursday, said the town met with the FAA on Wednesday and agreed to a new timeline for the temporary closure of East Hampton Airport in Wainscott which was "acceptable to both parties." The closure, originally slated for Feb. 28 through March 4, will now begin at 11:59 a.m. on May 17 with the reopening set at 9 a.m. on May 19.

The town is using the temporary closure to transition the public airport into a private facility and gain local control over operations and noise.

"The town continues to work cooperatively with the FAA to ensure that the new private-use airport opens with all safety and as many operational capabilities as possible," Van Scoyoc said in a news release. "The town appreciates the FAA’s dedication to addressing novel issues raised by the town’s unique situation in a timely and careful manner."

The FAA released a statement saying it was committed to working with the town "so all federal regulations are followed to ensure the safety of the airspace."

The town said the FAA indicated it should have its processes completed to open the new airport — with the exception of instrument flight procedures — and the facility will "be available for safe use by operators" by May 19. Specifically, navigational aids should be in place, the air control tower operational and a new agreement with the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control reached. The town will work with a third party to implement instrument procedures.

The framework for the private facility will be discussed during a public hearing next month.

The town, which was unsuccessful in previous attempts to regulate the airport, was legally permitted to shutter the facility after mandates tied to federal grants expired in September.

A new facility with a "prior permission required" model for takeoffs and landings was presented as a compromise between those who want the airport closed permanently and pilots and their advocates who oppose that.

But airport advocates were quick to criticize the plan especially after a Feb. 2 letter from the FAA asked the town to reconsider stating the process could take longer than expected. The town was served with three lawsuits on Tuesday, including one from the air transportation platform Blade, seeking to stop the closure.

Airport advocacy groups like the East Hampton Community Alliance were quick to say they supported the town’s announcement on Thursday.

"East Hampton Community Alliance applauds the decision of the town board to delay the closure of HTO," Erin King Sweeney, the group’s executive director said in a statement. "We remain hopeful the productive discussions with the town and airport users can avoid any type of closure and be the basis for a new future for HTO and our community."

HTO is the airport’s code.

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