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Coalition claims economic impact study of East Hampton Airport is flawed

East Hampton's seasonal airport control tower.

East Hampton's seasonal airport control tower. Credit: Handout

East Hampton’s Quiet Skies Coalition said that a new financial study of the economic impact of the town-owned East Hampton Airport is flawed because it does not deal with the economic cost of airport noise.

According to the study released last week, the airfield generates nearly $48 million on spending in the town and creates 647 full- and part-time jobs.

“My retirement plan was to rent my house out for the summer. I live near the airport, and I can’t do that,” said Kathleen Cunningham, chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition.

The economic study was prepared for the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council -- a private group composed of pilots who use the airport -- and does not evaluate the negative economic impact of dealing with airport noise. It also does not provide a breakdown of what kinds of jobs are created, either directly at the airport or indirectly by businesses that cater to affluent residents who fly in for summer weekends.

But it does say there is a strong link between the town’s high real estate prices -- and the tax base they provide -- and the ability of people to fly into East Hampton in private jets and helicopters.

The town has been debating airport noise and how to operate the airport for years. The issue is expected to come up again next year, when at least two new town board members will be on the five-member board, and a decision will have to be made on whether to seek extended grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, which could limit town efforts to restrict flights.

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