Choppers! Heights group fights helicopter invasion

The Brooklyn Paper
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If you think helicopter noise over Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and other waterfront neighborhoods is bad now, wait until this spring, when chopper traffic is expected to at least double.

In April, a heliport on Manhattan’s distant West Side will close, shifting its 75 daily tourist flights to a pad on the East River near Wall Street — and Brooklynites are already rallying to shoot down the invaders.

“What we have now is a free-for-all of helicopters over Brooklyn Heights,” Brooklyn Heights Association President Tom van den Bout told the Economic Development Corporation in a letter last week. “We are outraged at the prospect of doubling or tripling the number of helicopter flights past Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

The agency has agreed to meet on Friday with the BHA, which has tried to bar non-essential tourist helicopter flights for years to no avail. There is no reason to think they’ll succeed this time, given Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence that the city benefits from the tourist money from the 25,000 flights that took off from West 30th Street last year.

Each flight costs tourists at least $800 a pop. Do the math.

But the BHA has an ally in Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), who urged EDC not to relocate the non-essential tourist rides to the East Side heliport in the wake of August’s fatal helicopter collision in the Hudson.

The anti-copter campaign is making a lot of noise, but EDC spokesman David Lombino said that the BHA is misinformed, saying that the number of flights out of the West 30th Street Heliport this year was half of what it was last year.

Also, calls regarding helicopter noise to 311 have decreased, according to Nicholas Sbordone, spokesman for the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Then again, Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman offered one explanation for the drop-off: The operators don’t take calls about helicopter noise because such noise can’t be logged without an actual street address, he said.

Even if formal complaints have decreased, the helicopters are still ruffling featherst.

“They fly too low — you can’t even hold a face-to-face conversati­on,” said BHA Executive Director Judy Stanton.

Posted 12:00 am, October 29, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

nabeguy from Brooklyn Heights says:
Hey, I'm all for attracting tourist dollars, but not when their activities become a quality-of-life issue. They get to go home at the end of their visit, while we residents have to suffer any and all things done to separate them from their money.
Oct. 29, 2009, 12:29 pm
Anne R. from Cobble Hill says:
I hope the Cobble Hill Assoc. joins the fight as the copters here sound like they're landing on your house and come at all hours of the night.
Park Slope has a group that's been on this issue for months and they've District Representative from Congress women Yvette contacted Clarke's office, scheduled an important meeting with the FAA TRACON and Port Authority - all to no avail!
EDC doesn't take the complains seriously and doesn't log them any more than 311 who just refers you to EDC. Last summer, one woman at EDC told me it was "just people heading to the Hamptons for the weekend".
Thanks for the story - it gives me hope!
Too bad this never became an election issue.
Oct. 29, 2009, 8:29 pm
thomas lawrence from brooklyn heights says:
I currently work in the Heights, but used to live in Willowtown where, in the morning at 6 am, the traffic copter would begin sitting over head until 8 am or later. I never had to set my alarm clock because I'd always be awakened by the noise, esp. in the summer with the windows open.
April 5, 2010, 8:55 pm

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