East Hampton Airport could be closed. That was once so far-fetched that it was not considered a serious idea. That has all changed as industry, pilots, and the Federal Aviation Administration have made meaningful noise limits and flight reductions all but out of reach.
In an indication of how the impossible now seems possible, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc in his state of the town presentation in January said as much. His was not an idle threat but a frank observation of the effect of F.A.A. intransigence. If the town were unable to wrest control of the airport, closing it would be a likely outcome, he warned. To that end, the town board will commission a study of the airport’s local economic worth. Also to be considered will be what useful purposes the huge property might otherwise fulfill.
Private pilots and airport-based businesses, surprisingly, did not detonate over the news. This may reflect recognition that the situation has become untenable. It is an extraordinary turnaround, but one that is overdue. Perhaps aircraft owners and ground-service operators have realized they have a common enemy in the helicopters that now threaten the airport’s very existence.
We believe East Hampton would survive very well without an airport and that voters might be ready to support a town board willing to consider the most drastic solution to the noise problem.