Navy’s new Cement Block Wall flies in the face of Reserve Board Planning Review Process
I am not on the Ebey’s National Historical Reserve Board but I live in the Reserve. I find the move by the Navy to fortify the Outlying field (OLF) which is adjacent to the Reserve, provocative. It flies in the face of the collaborative planning process done by the Reserve, the county, the state and other federal agencies. A long public process was created and approved after debate and discussion for a planning process for development and view-sheds within the Reserve.
The new cement wall is being constructed at the southerly entrance to Central Whidbey and the Reserve along Route 20. In discussing the new ‘Wall’ going up that will encircle and fortify OLF, it appears that no one on the Reserve Board, or the local National Park Service, knew or was informed by the Navy of plans to build this obtrusive ‘Wall’. It is hardly the welcome envisioned by visitors to Central Whidbey and Ebey’s Reserve. This wall will serve as a ‘keep out’ message — and will be the first impression of the Reserve, whose sign is located across the road from the new cement block wall. It’s also not the welcome that the second oldest town in Washington deserves as people approach Coupeville from the south. I can’t image this will be good for Coupeville’s main street businesses.
Most neighbors who construct fences or walls notify adjacent property owners, and in some situations, there are policies that govern these situations. It is hard to imagine why such a wall would be built, since no wall has ever been needed since the field (OLF) was built in 1943. Are the Navy’s future plans so terrible for OLF that they need to anticipate a negative citizen response? Will the Navy militarize other properties they own on Whidbey, such as their holding in Greenbank across from Greenbank Farm? At a time of national, regional, and local cutbacks – it seems hard to justify the expense of the OLF Cement Wall. Are we witnessing the creeping militarization of Whidbey Island? At the very least, the ‘Wall’ is sure not neighborly behavior.