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Jumbo blocks planted at OLF Coupeville

A contracting crew places more than 1,000 cement blocks along the perimeter of Outlying Field Coupeville, a long-planned security measure to keep out unauthorized vehicles, said Navy representatives.  - Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
A contracting crew places more than 1,000 cement blocks along the perimeter of Outlying Field Coupeville, a long-planned security measure to keep out unauthorized vehicles, said Navy representatives.
— image credit: Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times

More than 1,000 large cement blocks connected by thick cable are being installed around the perimeter of the Navy’s Outlying Field Coupeville.

The blocks are stamped with the words, “Government property, do not trespass.”

They are a security measure to ensure unauthorized vehicles do not drive onto the field, according to Tony Popp, community relations director for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Popp said the Navy has not changed its security posture at OLF and has intended to install the blocks at the outlying field for some time.

Popp said that the Navy does not intend to build any kind of fence on top of the blocks.

The Navy still intends to resume touch-and-go operations at OLF after the end of the calendar year, Popp said.

The added security at OLF Coupeville comes in the wake of months of controversy about noise from landing practices at the airfield.

A Coupeville-based citizens group filed a federal lawsuit against the Navy in July, asking a judge to compel the Navy to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS.

The group alleges that the Navy’s new EA-18G Growlers are louder than previous aircraft and that the Navy are performing more operations at OLF than they estimated in 2005.

Members of the group, including Maryon Attwood and Paula Spina, speculated during a recent meeting that the cement blocks are being installed as added security as a result of their criticism of the jet noise and the Navy’s intention to resume operations in January.

When told that the Navy’s position is that this has been a project in the works for some time, Spina replied, “Do you believe that?”

Attwood concurred with Spina.

Attwood said she believes the timing of the block placement seems suspect.

The Navy announced its intention to conduct the EIS shortly after the lawsuit was filed, saying that plans for the study have been in the works for some time.

Public comment meetings about the impact of the Growlers and other aircraft on Whidbey is scheduled for Dec. 3-5.

The Navy has also closed Maylor Point trail to pedestrians due to the construction and closure of Torpedo Road, according to Mike Welding, NAS Whidbey public affairs officer.

Gate No. 5, near the entrance to Maylor Point trail is currently used as a backup to Maui gate for vehicular traffic entry into sea plane base, he said.

For safety reasons, he said, the base closed the gate to pedestrians during construction.

 

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