BRIDGEPORT — Elizabeth Rios lives a few blocks south of the recently opened Chicago Helicopter Experience facility on the Chicago River, and she isn't too bothered by her new neighbor.
"The helicopters look nice," Rios said. "I might take a trip on one of them this summer."
Last year, when Trevor Heffernan, executive director of the Chicago Helicopter Experience, introduced his plan to build a heliport in Bridgeport, he was met with mixed reactions.
Some residents expressed concern about how the new business would affect noise and safety in the neighborhood.
Now, more than a year later, those initial concerns seem to have subsided among the heliport's neighbors.
Mauricio Peña says some residents didn't know the heliport was open:
"To be honest, you can't tell the difference from the noise the news helicopters make and" the Chicago Experience Helicopters, said Rios, 60. "I know some people are bothered by the noise but so far it hasn't been a problem for me or my family."
"They've been flying sparsely, I imagine they'll have more traffic in the summer and it might be a concern for some people, but as of now it hasn't been a problem," Rios said. "They have a good location, they're not too close to residential homes, they are mostly around businesses."
Neighborhood resident Ben Yu, 31, was aware of the heliport but was unaware that the facility not far from the Stevenson Expy. had started hosting helicopters.
"I kind of been desensitized by the noise in area," Yu said. "You can't really hear over the noise from the highway."
Like Yu, Angela Lee was unaware the business had opened.
"I didn't notice they were around," Lee said. "I haven't heard or seen them flying."
The Chicago Helicopter Experience, 2420 S. Halsted St., officially opened to the public on May 1, but has been flying from the Bridgeport location since February, Heffernan said.
"To date our office hasn't received any noise complaints," Heffernan said. "We've checked with the ward office and the police department and no one has made any formal complaints."
Now that the Chicago Helicopter Experience has officially opened to the public, Heffernan is aiming to create a longstanding relationship with residents and local businesses, as well as sponsoring local sports teams.
"We've been meeting with local businesses, referring our guests to restaurants and places to see in the Bridgeport community," Heffernan said. "We've been feeding people into the community."
"We want to be apart of the community, and we don't want it to come at the expense of anyone's quality of life," Heffernan said.
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