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Farmers Market, Beer Garden Could Land at 34th Street Heliport

By Shaye Weaver | April 13, 2017 2:39pm
 A helicopter lands at the East 34th Street Heliport.
A helicopter lands at the East 34th Street Heliport.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

MIDTOWN EAST — The 34th Street heliport could soon serve as a weekend waterfront event space for tai chi, a farmers market or a beer garden — concerning some locals who fear what would happen in the event of emergency landings. 

Patricia Wagner of Atlantic Aviation, the heliport's management company, said last week that the heliport has plans to host events on the weekends when it is otherwise closed to air traffic, barring emergencies.

The heliport already hosts a private Fourth of July fireworks event each year with food, alcohol, and live music.

Atlantic Aviation would need to get a temporary permit to hold more events, which requires approval by the city's Economic Development Corporation, since the heliport is owned by the city.

"The heliport has plans to do events, like tai chi, farmers markets, a beer garden... anything that would bring people to the water," Wagner said during Community Board 6's Land Use and Waterfront Committee meeting on April 5. "The EDC is considering it based on the right fit."

Some members of the community board rejected the idea that it could bring value to the community, saying it could create a dangerous situation if there were ever an emergency in the air.

"A pilot traveling in an emergency situation does not have the option of looking out and saying, 'I can't land there because there's a rock concert going on,'" CB6 Member Lou Sepersky said at the meeting. 

"When there's an onboard emergency, a pilot needs to look at his chart and... land at the facility and do it with confidence. [This] is not the wisest decision we could make."

The heliport, which saw more than 8,700 landings in 2015, services private flights and the occasional emergency aircraft. No tourism flights are allowed to operate from the heliport, which is open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other city-owned properties that host similar events include Piers 92, 94 and 36, which occasionally put on concerts and events like the Westminster dog show, conferences and tournaments, according to the EDC.

An EDC rep said during the meeting that any events hosted by the heliport would be vetted by the corporation.

"We want to have that conversation with you — what you’d like to see and how you’d like to see that area activated," the spokeswoman said.

Since the proposal was only on the agenda for discussion, the community board did not vote it.