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‘Unsafe’ conditions at East Hampton Airport, noise panel says

The East Hampton Airport signage in East Hampton,

The East Hampton Airport signage in East Hampton, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Members of a newly formed airport noise committee said they videotaped ”serious” lapses in airport safety during a visit last week to the East Hampton Airport.

David Gruber, an East Hampton resident and chairman of the six-member East Hampton Airport Noise Citizens Advisory Committee, said he and other members observed several instances of what they described as “unsafe” conditions, such as helicopters refueling near the terminal where they had just discharged passengers, and children running unescorted on the tarmac to greet their father, who was disembarking from a helicopter.

Gruber said committee members had decided after they formed the committee in August to visit the airport to study traffic conditions and airport operations.

“We decided to get an idea of what’s going on, get a sense of the congestion, and it never hurts to look,” Gruber said.

East Hampton Town owns and operates the airport.

Members also said they saw trucks operated by Sound Aircraft Services, one of the operators that leases airfield space from the town, parked in a way that obscured airport operations from public view and forced people to walk between the trucks and patio for access to the terminal.

“The obvious purpose was to hide airport operations from public view,” said Kathy Cunningham, an East Hampton resident and chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition, an activist group that has been trying to reduce aircraft noise over the East End. “But passengers were then forced to walk through a narrow space between the fuel trucks and the patio for access to the terminal, creating a totally unsafe condition.”

Cindy Herbst, manager of Sound Aircraft Services, disputed the claim Wednesday.

“All I’m going to say is there are no unsafe conditions at this airport,” she said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Wednesday that he received a text message regarding the committee’s presence and that he was also at the airport that day. However, he said, “I can’t comment on why trucks were parked there because I didn’t have that conversation. I am aware the town attorney had granted permission to film with a small amount of people.”

He added, “The trucks should not be parked there.”

Gruber said the committee plans to discuss the complaints at the next Airport Management Advisory Committee meeting.

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