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Assemblyman Thiele And Senator LaValle Put The Power Back Into The Community’s Hands

Sydney A. Braat

Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator Ken LaValle passed legislation that will require any future long term financial agreements between East Hampton Town Board and the Federal Aviation Administration to be subject to a permissive referendum. Most importantly, community members are gaining back their power and receiving a chance to voice their opinions on whether or not to accept federal funds and regulations as it relates to the East Hampton Airport.

Federal aviation grants can last up to 20 years, resulting in a long-term impact on the community when they are accepted. The bill attempts to address this weighty commitment by entrusting authority to both the East Hampton Town Board as well as the residents. Firstly, this bill allows the Town Board to hold a permissive referendum when considering state or federal assistance for the town-owned East Hampton Airport. Secondly, this bill gives residents the chance to voice their opinions. The petition must be signed by at least five percent of residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election and submitted within 30 days of the Board adopting the measure.

"I am pleased the Legislature approved this measure which puts some of the decision-making power back into the hands of the community," said Assemblyman Thiele. "Town board members, who negotiate financing for the Town airport, have terms that last only two years. Therefore, it's important that voters also have a say on these abiding agreements that will impact them for years to come."

The bill is currently being sent to the Governor for consideration. If signed into Law, it would take effect immediately.

"I fully support East Hampton's efforts to make decisions concerning their own airport," stated Senator LaValle. "Our legislation would enable the residents to decide by referendum whether to accept financial assistance from other levels of government. The new decision-making ability would enable the community of East Hampton to chart their own course."


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