Gurney's Inn
January 03, 2007

Coming Soon: East Hampton Ad-port?

A runway brought to you by Jaguar? A chopper landing sponsored by BMW? A terminal highlighted by logos from ritzy companies catering to the uber-rich?

Yes, advertisements touting luxury companies may become part of the landscape at the East Hampton Airport. Over grumblings that allowing companies to display logos, banners or umbrellas heralding their names equates to "the selling of East Hampton," Supervisor Bill McGintee is prepared to move forward soliciting proposals from marketing companies.

McGintee dismissed complaints as one of two things — misunderstanding what the initiative might look like, and just plain envy from business owners. He was emphatic that, should town officials permit advertising at the airport, the ads would be tasteful and unobtrusive.

For example, he said, one company may paint their logo on the spot where helicopters land. No one, except those in the craft, could see it. Another idea involves allowing a company to put umbrellas marked with their name or logo over picnic tables. "It's nothing different than what they have at Nichol's," the supervisor explained. (Nichol's restaurant in East Hampton has outdoor tables with umbrellas sporting a beer company's name.)

As to the envy, McGintee's heard murmurings from the local business community, complaining that the town would allow outdoor ads on its own property when it's restrictive about what private business owners can do. The supervisor refuted the complaint, arguing that the town fully intends to run any improvements at the airport through the same review process private businesses must. He chalked complaints up to entrepreneurs jealous of competitors.

Why allow ads at the airport? Money, of course. The town could glean as much as a quarter of a million dollars during the first year. That revenue could be used to underwrite improvements at the airport, in furtherance of the current town board majority's desire to move away from accepting funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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