May 23, 2013
To the Editor:
Many citizens in the Central Whidbey community have voiced distress from the type of planes using Outlying Field (OLF) Coupeville. We have heard from long time residents, small businesses and farmers who support the Navy’s mission, but are experiencing a level of impact with the transition to the E-18 Growler planes. Out of respect for these citizen concerns we began discussions last year with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NAS-WI) leadership.
We have encouraged the Base to improve its communication with the community. As a result the Base has begun issuing public notices of its practice flight schedule at OLF as well as summer dates when there will be no flights due to field repairs. They agreed to create a fact sheet about flight patterns and other operational information. For us, this was just a first step.
On Wednesday, May 15th we attended a meeting of local, state and federal representatives with NAS-WI Base Commander Captain Nortier and Rear Admiral Rich, Commander Navy Region Northwest. The OLF flights were discussed and Rear Admiral Rich spoke to his awareness of the noise impacts to Central Whidbey and his willingness to explore strategies to address the needs of the community.
Other elected officials have been helpful in these efforts. Congressman Rick Larsen’s office has contacted the head of Naval Aviation at the Department of the Navy to discuss technical solutions to reduce noise effects from the E-18 Growler. These may include equipment modifications, flight pattern alternatives or changes to take-off profiles.
Communication between the community and NAS-WI is vital in finding a way to meet the needs of our local residents and businesses as well as support the Navy’s need to train pilots being deployed to defend our country. By increasing the dialogue we can come together to reduce the negative impacts of base operations on our community. Please join us for an OLF community forum with elected officials at the Coupeville Rec Hall, Wednesday June 19, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Mayor Nancy Conard
Commissioner Helen Price Johnson