The city has banned tourist helicopters over Red Hook, amending a controversial flight plan that diverted choppers to the forsaken peninsula to appease residents in tonier Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.
Choppers will now be allowed to fly only over the Buttermilk Channel — the body of water between Red Hook and Governors Island — and not over the long-put-upon peninsula.
“The city takes the complaints of Red Hook residents seriously,” said Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Corporation, which oversees helicopter traffic.
The agency promised not only the new route, but a “strict enforcement system,” Wood added.
The move comes three months after residents blasted the city for allowing the skies over Red Hook to become a whirlybird Wild West, collateral damage from the 2009 closure of a heliport on Manhattan’s West Side.
The shuttering shunted more air traffic to a location near the South Street Seaport, filling the skies over DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights with choppers. Residents in those neighborhoods urged an amended flight plan — and got one last April.
But one neighborhood’s pleasure was another’s pain-in-the-ear.
The shuttering shunted more air traffic to a location near the South Street Seaport, filling the skies over DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights with choppers. Residents in those neighborhoods demanded — and got last April — an amended flight plan that forbid choppers over any part of land in Brooklyn.
But then complaints started to fly in from officials at Governors Island — which is devoid of residents, but home to a school and other cultural attractions. The result? Choppers were flying closer to mainland Red Hook.
And then the Department of Homeland Security mistakenly told the city that there was a security issue with the choppers flying over the cruise terminal at Pier 12 along the waterfront, further pushing flyboys over the peninsula, according to a city official.
The newly refined flight plan took effect April 14. Pilots will be fined $100 for a first offense, and on May 1, scofflaws will receive a $1,000 fine.
Residents were thrilled with the news.
“It’s about time!” said Sue Peebles, a Beard Street resident. “You can’t imagine how loud these things were.”
But Red Hook sky-watchers said they haven’t noticed a change just yet.
“So far, it seems like it’s being disregarded,” said Wolcott Street resident Todd Bonne, who vowed to closely monitor the clouds.
“I don’t mind one every blue moon, but a helicopter ever five minutes — all you hear is the sound. We just want them to please make it stop.”
©2011 Community News Group
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