Letter: Clarifying history about COER group, its goals

Editor,

In her May 17 letter, Carol Parbs got many of her facts wrong. On behalf of the Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve, I would like to set the record straight.

First, COER was not formed in “early 2000.” It was in December 2012, in response to local outcry over the Navy flying substantially more than 6,120 annual operations at the Outlying Field Coupeville, in violation of its 2005 EA.

Second, how is a community standing up for its rights “bullying the Navy?”

It was the Navy that misled the community in its 2005 EA that the EA18-G Growler was less impactful than the EA6-B “Prowler” and that it would only use the OLF Coupeville for 6,120 landing practice operations annually. Neither was true.

During the last two years, the Navy has completely ignored all local communities’ views in deciding to expand the Growler presence and quadruple its impacts.

The Navy walked away from required meetings regarding mitigation of Growler impacts to Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve because the other Section 106 partners wanted real mitigation, not just financial handouts.

The Navy is the one acting like a bully. Citizens standing up for their rights, for their communities and environment, are not bullies; they are patriots.

It is also a mistake to believe that those who oppose this expansion are “a small handful of people.”

This is a myth.

Opposition has sprung up all around our region. The Sound Defense Alliance is composed of groups representing well over 25,000 people at this time. COER itself has hundreds of members.

Most folks impacted by the Growler want some or all of them relocated. Ms. Parbs will find that she is actually among the “handful” that is getting smaller.

Finally, this region is not, despite Navy claims, the best or only place for the Growler mission.

We live in a populated and delicate environment that doesn’t meet the Navy’s own standards for basing supersonic jets.

The Navy has had to grant itself waivers to base and train Growlers here.

It has had to misrepresent the mission and the impacts in its failed attempt to build support among the citizenry for placing all Growlers on Whidbey Island. Sorry, but we aren’t buying it.

If Ms. Parbs, or anyone else, is interested in learning more about the facts, we welcome her to meet with us for a polite and respectful conversation.

Perhaps there is more that unites us, than the Growler that divides us.

Paula Spina, director

Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve

Coupeville

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