Who will ultimately decide to close the airport or not? What is the timeline?
This decision to close the airport rests with the five members of the East Hampton Town Board. The board has voted to change the airport from public access to a PPR (Prior Permission to Land Required) private airport as of May 19, 2022. The board says there will be "restrictions" but nothing about what kind.
How does the East Hampton Airport impact our Town’s environment?The airport is a major source of PFAS contamination and lead emissions, which poison our water, pollute our air, and harm our health.
PFAS– toxic chemicals found at the airport in firefighting foam and aeronautic hydraulic fluids–contaminate our groundwater. In Wainscott, levels of PFAS in well water were 162 ppt, over double the EPA recommended level of 70 ppt, causing 47 acres of the airport to be designated a federal superfund contamination site. Drinking PFAS-contaminated water can cause immune system deficiencies, neurological problems, and pancreatic damage.
Leaded jet fuel makes the airport the 35th largest source of toxic lead emissions in the state (of 965 sites). This increases the chance of lead exposure, which harms the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems and the cardiovascular system.
What will happen to medevac services if the airport closes?
Helicopters have never needed the airport to provide medevac services.
Helicopters have made documented landings on Haven’s Beech, Deerfield Rd, and Montauk Highway (among many other locations) to provide medevac services as close to the scene as possible. These open spaces--and many others--will remain available for medevac landings if the airport closes. And we can always have an open space or helipad at the airport property too. We don’t need a 554-acre airport to land a helicopter.
How will closing the airport impact the East Hampton economy?
Closing the airport will have essentially no negative impact on the Town’s economy. It will likely improve it due to release of significant funds now dedicated to airport clean-up and new water mains to replace polluted wells in Wainscott costing the Town $35M already, with more to come.
The airport does not contribute significantly to Town revenue streams. Airport users’ spending only accounts for 1-3% of East Hampton’s taxable sales and NO Town revenue comes from the airport. All airport proceeds, including rental income from the non-airport businesses within the airport perimeter remain in an airport-only fund.
The airport is not a significant Town employer, providing just 15 full time year-round jobs.
If the airport closes, will all its flights be redirected to the Montauk airport?
An independent Town-commissioned air traffic diversion study found that half of the visitors said if the airport were to close they would come to East Hampton by other means. The bulk of remaining flights would be diverted to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton if East Hampton Airport closes.
Montauk Airport is a small PRIVATE airport, has short runways too small for most jets, no parking for aircraft, no parking for cars, no terminal, or restrooms, is on the water, and all aircraft must get permission to land there. Many types of aircraft using East Hampton cannot land at Montauk. The Town could buy Montauk Airport and turn it too into a park.
Closing the airport is critical to significantly reduce the noise pollution and environmental contamination (particularly the water supply) in East Hampton, even if some flight traffic is redirected to Montauk’s airport in the near term.
Because Montauk’s airport is located about 20 miles away from EH airport and approachable by water, planes that may land at Montauk will not need to fly low to the ground--greatly reducing the nuisance of noisy and low-flying planes in East Hampton.
Also because of its location, anyone not going to Montauk is unlikely to fly all the way out there in an expensive, uncomfortable, noisy and dangerous chopper, then turn around, and make the journey back west by car (at least one hour just to East Hampton in the summer).
Will there be an invasion of sea planes?
Thanks to the work of the East Hampton Town Trustees, bans have been placed on seaplane landings within EH Town waters, and stiff penalties will be handed to offenders.
Will there be an invasion of helicopters?
Helicopters can only land where they are allowed to, and not on residential property anywhere in East Hampton.
What does CTA propose East Hampton do with the land if the airport closes?
There are so many potential uses for this land that would serve all East Hampton residents AND have a positive environmental and economic impact.
The Town should be able to determine how to best use the land by hearing different proposals from the community and allowing the community to gain consensus on what we’d like to see.
For instance, the creation of hiking, biking, and running trails surfaced with sand and gravel would provide a safe and healthy recreational space for thousands of residents who literally risk their lives on overcrowded and dangerous local roads.
There is ample room for a solar farm on the property, and that could generate substantial reduction for residents' electric bills.
A great park and nature preserve is another potential use. An outdoor grass amphitheater for cultural events would be wonderful.
The airport has been around for decades. Why is the movement to close it happening now?
Citizens have been opposed to the airport for many many years. Hundreds of thousands of complaints from all over the East End have been filed. Court battles have been fought. Now, after 20 years, East Hampton’s grant obligations to the FAA have expired. This means we finally have control over our own land and its future. The Town Board can vote to close the airport for the first time in two decades.