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Anti-noise group protests near Coupeville field
A rally protesting jet noise at Outlying Field Coupeville Friday was quieter than expected.
While the event was staged to occur during Field Carrier Landing Practice, or touch-and-gos, a last-minute schedule change eliminated their noisy backdrop.
More than 125 people with signs gathered along Highway 20 at the entrance to OLF, some coming from across the region.
“They’re not flying because we’re here even though, of course, they will say differently,” said Michael Monson, president of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, the group that scheduled the event. “Our concern is for the health and well-being of the region’s inhabitants.”
The touch-and-gos were performed Wednesday instead of Friday, said Mike Welding, public information officer for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
This is the first time this year that the Navy has changed the touch-and-go schedule without notifying the public in advance.
COER members have been repeating a story about a T-ball game in Rhododendron Park that was disrupted by the unscheduled flights Wednesday evening.
Monson and other COER members said that some of the children became very upset at the noise.
“What they did last Wednesday was unconscionable,” Monson said.
“That’s why these people are here.”
The Navy has been transitioning over that year from EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler, an electronic attack aircraft many claim is louder.
The Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve filed a lawsuit last year demanding an Environmental Impact Statement on the Growlers, which the Navy started shortly after the lawsuit.
A draft EIS document is expected to be ready for the public to review in 2015.
Susie Mareau, one of more than a dozen protesters from Lopez Island, said loud and low-flying Growlers in their area is a growing problem.
“When the Growlers are flying they have to stop teaching and some of the kids start to cry because it scares them,” claimed Mareau who said she works in a Lopez Island school.
Jeanine Cardiff said she came to the rally from Port Angeles because the Growlers are problematic on occasion and she doesn’t want the issue to spread throughout the region.
“I don’t want what they have to deal with to spread to the rest of the area,” Cardiff said. “I need to stand up now so I’m not standing up later.”
J.C. Maren said he has lived on the Whidbey Island for 35 years and didn’t have any issue with the military noise until now.
Maren said he believes there is a marked difference in noise levels between the Growler and its predecessor, the Prowler.
“The important thing is it’s not about the military, I support the military,” Maren said. “It’s about noise pollution and devaluation of our properties and quality of life.
All we’re asking is that they take the noise to a more appropriate location.”