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Dear Rick:

Kitty Merrill didn't mention additional facts in her article (McGintee Closes Controversial Runway, 4/5 issue.) She omitted the fact that the 1989 MasterPlan, which is still in place, recommended the abandonment of 4-22 because 16-34 was the safer of the two. Yet there was no outcry when 16-34 was closed to park planes. 

Supervisor McGintee, I am sure, made this decision because it is the right thing to do. To infer that he and the town board may have been influenced by politics is absurd. Maybe Ms. Merrill should review the lawsuit against a prior town board and the cause behind that litigation to ask if the same holds true.

It takes conviction to stand up and "do the right thing." This facility is owned by the taxpayers of the Town of East Hampton and that is who the governing body has a responsibility to — all of its constituents.

I have seen the ad on television. Mentioning some bogeyman of a disaster that will befall us. I do not think that the pilots will be running a "get out of town" taxi service to ferry us all out on runway 4-22.

The current town board is addressing problems at and caused by the airport, not only in this town but neighboring towns that are affected. As a member of two committees [I] have never heard one person state that the airport should be closed. That is strictly a scare tactic that is baseless.

However, the remarks concerning the safety only mentions the pilots. The elevation of that runway is 45 feet above sea level and the area at the end of that runway is 125 feet [elevation]. The planes coming in for landings often skim the treetops and are dangerously low over homes. The take-offs create the same danger. When it was all woods, no one was in danger. Things change and we all have to adapt.

"The ads paint a very grim picture" . . . is quoted in a letter to the town from the insurance agency. However, one must examine the mental culpable state of the pilots who disregarded a risk and continued to use 4-22. That alone is defined in the Penal Code. That is a mitigating factor in liability.

The message is not to close but to have the town have control of a facility owned by us, the taxpayers. The FAA funding has long strings attached and remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch, 39 different assurances must be adhered to for a 20-year period.

There is plenty of space in The Independent. So, Ms. Merrill could have put in a few additional facts concerning the decision. Like who is the money behind the ads? Who will benefit? Interesting question.

Editor's Note: There has never been a town board in the history of the East End that WASN'T influenced by politics. The Independent has done about 40 stories on the airport. We're not going to rehash all the minutia every time something happens because most of us don't care one way or the other. It's an issue between the pilots, the people who live near the airport, and the zealots who have made it a political issue. You continue to overlook the fact that the homes built at the end of the runway were built well after the runway was open. In other words, the homeowners bought land on the cheap because it was near an airport and now complain because duh . . . they live near the airport.

ARTHUR J. FRENCH
April 18, 2006

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