Opinion

What if the Navy left?

Regarding “Takes planes to a different base,” (Letters, Whidbey News-Times, April 5).

I’m not sure who appointed the person living in Florida as spokesperson for persons living in Oak Harbor and North Whidbey, or who thought they had the authority to appoint an off-island and out-of-state person as the authority of some civilians against the U.S. Navy. Thiswas wrong.

But let’s consider what would happen if the Navy could not fly out of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Did you ever notice how many stores and other businesses are vacant in Oak Harbor at present? Have you noticed that there are new homes sitting vacant unable to be sold for a year or so? And how much property is for sale and has been for sale for a long period of time? Have you wondered how many schools are closed, or are going to be closed in the near future? Have you noticed how much your property tax has gone up in the last year or two?

Do you have any idea how many military active and retired families reside on Whidbey Island? And who will be left on Whidbey and in Oak Harbor if the Navy were to leave Whidbey? And more importantly have you considered national defense capabilities without the Navy here? We have U.S. markings on the aircraft here, not enemy markings, and the U.S. has enemies with designs on Washington state.

Who thought the Ford agency would leave Oak Harbor? With all the new houses unsold, and new stores built, what will happen if the Navy leaves Whidbey? With the Navy gone, active duty families will go, of course. Consider how many retired people, present and future, and families will go, too. More businesses will close. Oak Harbor will become a ghost town. Do any of you remember how big Oak Harbor was before the Navy came here? That’s why Coupeville became the county seat!

Military people want to take advantage of what little retired benefits they still have. That means being near a military establishment; hospital or dispensary, exchange and commissary. Even with these, many times active duty and retired persons will trade at businesses in Oak Harbor. I for one, and my son, for another, do so.

However, kick the Navy off Whidbey Island, I and my son and his family will be gone like yesterday’s wind. As beautiful as Whidbey Island is, there are other beautiful places near military establishments. And even if there were no place to compare to Whidbey Island, without the Naval Air Station, there is no draw for active duty and military retired families to move here.

I’m sure you do not want Oak Harbor to become a ghost town, and higher taxes due to fewer taxpayers here. Without the business here on Whidbey, anyone left will shop off island. Don’t listen to someone in Florida saying kick the Navy off Whidbey Island. Easy for them to say, after all, it won’t hurt them in Florida, unless of course the military moves to Florida as well.

Rod Barnes lives in Coupeville.

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