Monday, October 27, 2014

Southold, Suffolk County, New York: Helicopter group meets, calls out for public to make voices heard

A new Southold helicopter committee met for the first time Thursday — and wants Southold residents to get involved and make their voices heard.

According to Southold Town Councilman Bob Ghosio, who represented the town board at the meeting, the gathering was well-attended, with around a dozen in attendance.

“The meeting really consisted of reviewing what the concerns are, for example, noise, frequency of public disturbance, and health and safety concerns, a review of existing groups working to bring the message to East Hampton and the FAA that the current flight scheme is unacceptable, and brainstorming about what our committee can do to bring Southold’s message to those who have the power to effect change,” Ghosio said.

The conclusion, Ghosio said, was that the committee “must move to get as many Southolders involved in making their concerns heard.”

Ways to do that, he added, include petitions, which the group will put together, but also by organizing en masse to gather at meetings — a possible protest could be organized, too.

In addition, the group elected Teresa McCaskie as chairperson and Margie Brock as secretary, Ghosio said.

The group also discussed publicity to get the word out over concerns; a subcommittee set up to address communications to the public could be set up, he said.

“All in all, the committee was very committed to the goals Southold set out to help curb the nuisance caused by helicopters going to East Hampton— and discussion was very animated,” Ghosio said.

The next meetings will be held on Thursday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m and Thursday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m.

In early October, with an eye toward addressing helicopter noise that residents say is shattering their bucolic quality of life on the North Fork, Southold Town officially voted to form the first-ever helicopter noise steering committee.

The goal is for the group to help the town board develop strategies and propose solutions for addressing helicopter noise over the North Fork, according to the resolution.

The town board appointed Adam Irving, Margie Brock, Amy Greenberg, Len Greenberg, Janice LoRusso, Margy Pisani, Donald Kirby, and Paula Daniel to the group, with Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and Ghosio serving as liaisons.

“The town has been actively pursuing all available options to combat helicopter noise and traffic,” Russell said, when announcing formation of the group. “We would like to create a working group to join forces with other East End communities that share our burden.”

Earlier this month, a group of concerned neighbors attended the first-ever helicopter noise organizational meeting at Town Hall, where the goal was to create the civic group, which would coordinate with those on the South Fork to help advocate for change.

Bob Mellafonte, chair of the Sag Harbor Citizen Advisory Committee, attended the meeting, as did Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, New York State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, Councilwoman Jill Doherty and Councilman Bob Ghosio.

Mellafonte took the floor first, explaining how his Sag Harbor CAC was run, with a chair, co-chair, and a secretary, and said their meetings are held on the second Friday of the month at the local high school to discuss an array of issues including water quality, development — and helicopter noise.

Russell said the town was looking to create a helicopter council that would meet at Town Hall and have support from the town board, including posting public notices, and press releases.

The supervisor said he’s been getting scores of calls about helicopter noise and would like to tap into that to form a large group, with many members and a plan of action.

“I want hundreds of people to join, sort of like the helicopter version of the North Fork Environmental Council,” Russell said.

All town residents are invited and encouraged to join, Russell said, as well as seasonal residents.

“This is not just a Southold committee, it’s for the North Fork. The more hands the better,” he said. “I envision a steering group that will motivate the membership when need be.”

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