The East Hampton Town Board has approved spending more than $385,000 as part of efforts to improve the town airport just days before asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its airport curfew laws.
The board agreed at a March 2 meeting to pay $260,000 for designs to connect two taxiways and $48,890 for plans to replace runway lights. It also moved forward with a $66,710 project to install new security cameras.
On Monday, town officials filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking it to overturn a Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in November that struck down its airport curfew laws.
Town officials said they want the court’s help to keep local control of the airport, which is in Wainscott.
“We have fought long and hard to protect our quality of life, and it is too important to let the court of appeals undermine that,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said Monday in a statement.
Town officials had vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court after the lower court ruled Nov. 4 to throw out laws that prohibited all flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and noisy aircraft flights between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Burke-Gonzalez said Thursday that airport improvement measures and the court case are “two separate things.”
“One is we’re looking to maintain a safe and efficient airport,” Burke-Gonzalez said in a phone interview. “The second is we’re looking to have local control to put in place reasonable airport restrictions to provide relief from the noise that’s disturbing everyone’s quality of life.”
The town board has been working to improve the airport after years of neglect, Burke-Gonzalez said, adding that lights at one end of the main runway don’t work, another runway needs new pavement and security cameras are “fried.” Wildlife can get into the area because the airport needs improvements to its perimeter and deer fences, a project the town board plans to spend $1 million to undertake, according to the minutes from an October board meeting.
The town board is looking to “fast track” replacing the lights to have them ready by the start of the busy season in May, Burke-Gonzalez said.
Airport director Jim Brundige said work to install the new security camera system will begin next week. Construction to connect two taxiways that are parallel to the main runway will likely begin in the fall to avoid creating more traffic over the summer.
The town board also agreed to spend $10,000 to have Port Jefferson-based accounting firm Cullen & Danowski LLP audit the revenue of groups that have leases at the airport in order to reset lease rates, Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski said.
“There is other work to be done at the airport,” Burke-Gonzalez said, noting the town board plans to replace its airport fuel farm this summer.